Various Artists: The South Side of Soul Street (The Minaret Soul Singles)

Listeners who enjoy deep soul will find a fresh fix.

Various Artists

The South Side of Soul Street (The Minaret Soul Singles)

Label: Omnivore Records
US Release Date: 2013-08-13
UK Release Date: 2013-08-13

Markets fail, the popular music marketplace included. For any number of reasons, sometimes great songs, albums, or artists never gain the attention they deserve. But lately, a system of labels has developed which attempts to correct some of the market's past errors. These labels reissue music that they believe didn't get a fair shake the first time around. The music may not even be that old -- Light in the Attic Records is working on reissuing four excellent early '70s albums from the Brazilian pop smith Marcos Valle, but they also recently reissued a D'Angelo album from 2000. Labels spot a supply of little-known or hard-to-obtain good music, look for a demand, and try to connect the two.

Omnivore Records is one of these labels, with a taste for Bert Jansch, Alex Chilton, Gene Clark, and Townes Van Zandt. While these artists lean towards folk, country, and rock, one of Omnivore's latest releases dips into deep soul: The South Side of Soul Street, a collection of 20 singles (and their B-sides) recorded in Florida between 1969 and 1976 and originally released on the Minaret label. Mostly when people talk about Southern soul, they talk about the same set of studios -- Stax, Muscle Shoals, Hi Records. But there were other hot spots of soul production below the Mason-Dixie line, and Florida had a scene of its own. Betty Wright, George and Gwen McCrae, and Latimore were all Florida-based R&B singers with hits.

The tunes on The South Side of Soul Street rely on the standard Southern soul ingredients: sharp rhythm guitar, organ, horns, bluesy keys. The percussion holds steady, the melody rises and falls. There are a few nods to the more active beat and bass lines of funk, but most of the songs stick to the mid-tempo or ballad mode.

Of the 40 songs on The South Side of Soul Street, 18 are by one artist, Big John Hamilton. Big John's most exciting vocal performance is on "Big Fanny", one of the quicker and more elastic tracks in the collection. He manages to find a perfect combination of smoothness and rasp in his singing (presumably spurred to greater heights by the fanny in question).

The singers at Minaret weren't always the most commanding bunch. They all sing well, but it's hard not to stack them up against their formidable Southern soul competition. Even a notch below the genre giants -- Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Al Green, and Isaac Hayes -- you had James Carr, Percy Sledge, O.V. Wright, men with riveting croaks and sweetly cracked croons. Minaret also didn't work with many ladies. While most of the songs are about loving women, the only women who actually cracked the studio seem to be named Doris (Doris Allen and Doris Reed).

However, you can't gain an understanding of Southern soul only by listening to the people who broke through and crossed over (you can't listen exclusively to the people who never made it either). While there aren't many lost classics here, listeners who need their deep soul will find a fresh fix.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.