In the 1970s black music took on a different edge. Although soul had always been about love, heartbreak, loss and cheating, men and women doing what men and women do, it had also been down home or at least raw. Even the big city soul of the 60s kept this feeling. As the 70s dawned it brought on a different aspect. Whether it was through an increasing sense of affluence among a substantial chunk of black America, or an escapism foisted on the whole nation through television's ability to bring the consumerist ideal into anyone's home, is anyone's guess. But it was undoubtedly helped by an increasingly sophisticated set of production values and studio technology.
Isaac Hayes and, later, Barry White, were the most obvious manifestations of this phenomenon - all furs, Rolls Royces and champagne - but even records such as Stevie Wonder's greatest albums, or Marvin Gaye's I Want You could not have happened even five years previously. Motown's 60s attempts at elegance had a distinctly white feel to them; what happened next was on different terms.
This compilation takes this change to heart - even the most traditional record here, It Hurts So Good, has a distinct sheen - and appreciates these records for what they are. And that is some of the mightiest slices of soul ever recorded, allied to a sense of production - big drums, plenty of space, lots of strings - that makes them an essential hunting ground for today's producers.
By Dean Rudland