PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Various Artists: Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels

Numero Group's latest release is a massive (almost to a fault) collection of Atlanta-based soul jams.

Various Artists

Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels

Label: Numero Group
US Release Date: 2008-06-24
UK Release Date: 2008-06-23

The easiest way to describe Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels, the latest release from the grave-digging Numero Group label is, quite plainly, that Numero Group did it again -- which is to say they've assembled yet another collection of hidden soul singles that most wouldn't have heard otherwise. The Tragar and Note labels -- the latter of which, a descendant of Tragar -- are Atlanta-based labels from the late '60s and early '70s. Without going too in depth into the racial politics and other issues surrounding the lack of Atlanta soul releases, these labels, in their short life spans, produced a mass of tracks that rival the quality and sound of their more prominent, mainstream contemporaries.

This isn't to say though, that the artists on Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels were unfairly neglected from widespread radio play, because frankly, much of the work on this retrospective lacks the soaring melodies and knockout, raw power of Motown and Stax artists, respectively. Eula Cooper, one of the label's headlining artists, can sing but clearly doesn't have the pipes that someone like Aretha Franklin does. Cooper tends to casually stroll through songs ("Shake Daddy Shake," "I Can't Help If I Love You"), singing well but rarely with the sheer power of more notable artists.

Not to imply that Cooper's songs suffer due to this classification, but rather -- as one of the most frequently featured artists on this two-disc collection -- her songs hint at a greater trend throughout the two labels: there seem to be no defining qualities that make any of the tracks on Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels immediately recognizable as Tragar or Note releases. Though you could probably call it regionalism -- growing up in Motown typically makes me look for specific things in my soul music -- there isn't the same energy or liveliness from many of these cuts.

Tee Fletcher's "Would You Do It For Me" sounds drier than you'd expect something of its tempo and sentiment would. But in contrast, the L. Daniels instrumental explosion "Nitecap" is a Rhodes-piano-orgy, with more soul than half the music you've ever heard. But their mutual inclusion on the same label, and same post-label release, makes it difficult to really get a handle on the label itself.

The biggest issue that can be brought against Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels, however, is the sheer magnitude of the collection. Boasting 50 songs -- many of which clock in somewhere around a brief two minutes -- it's difficult to really sink your teeth into this collection. Sandy Gaye's "Watch the Dog That Brings the Bone" gets lost halfway through the two discs -- though its inclusion as the first song of the second disc was decidedly well done. Similarly J.J. Jones' "I Can't Stand It" and Langston & French's "Let's Get Funky" are hidden near the very end of the two discs.

So while Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels is another collection of undiscovered soul, it is more or less unremarkable. It will quickly be placed in the catalog of similar records to be shelved and occasionally pulled out for a listen or two, because though there are some good tracks on these discs, Numero Group has done better in the past.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.