by Robert Bell
TRUE SOUL ALBUM RELEASE PARTY
5 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.
In music geek heaven (which is sort of like regular heaven only it looks like an endless, cluttered record shop) there will be a special place of honor for those crate diggers who prize nothing more than turning folks on to the obscure, the unheralded, the you-gotta-hear-this tunes that might otherwise be relegated to the dustbins of wax history. Along with Numero, Mississippi Records, Light in the Attic and a handful of others, the fine folks at Now-Again will surely have prime seats at that table for their efforts.
The label specializes in painstakingly researched, lovingly assembled reissues of everything from Iranian psych rock to Zambian funk to all-but-forgotten Southern soul. Now-Again recently compiled "True Soul: Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax," a two-volume set chronicling legendary Arkansas imprint True Soul, which entrepreneur and musical impresario Lee Anthony started in the '60s and operated through the '70s.
Now-Again spared no expense on the release, which is available as separate CD/DVD sets or as a four-LP box set. Of course beautiful packaging, fantastic photos and detailed, lengthy liner notes don't mean much if the music doesn't measure up. And while True Soul isn't a household name like Stax/Volt, Hi or Motown, the music that came out on a tiny label from the relatively tiny outpost of Little Rock is awesome.
Check out "Thank You" or "Wheezin'" by York Wilborn's Psychedelic Six for some funky, wacka-chicka-wacka-chicka instrumental workouts. "The Real Thing" by The Conspiracy is sweaty, high-octane funk with punchy horns and a frenetic chorus, and Thomas East's cuts, including "Slipping Around" and "Funky Music," offer a glimpse back to a bygone era of soul music.
East, John Craig and Clifford Hawkins are among the True Soul alums playing this album release party with the True Soul Revue, which is led by Lorenzo Smith.
Arkansas Record & CD Exchange stocks the True Soul reissues, and Bill probably has a few of the original 45s too.