Shaolin Soul: Episode 4.

Label: Because Music France. 

Twenty years ago in 1998, the first instalment in the Shaolin Soul compilation series was released to  widespread critical acclaim. Shaolin Soul: Episode 1 was an all-star compilation that featured nineteen funky and soulful tracks from labels like Atlantic, Hi, Motown and Stax that had inspired many hip hop producers. 

So did the music on Shaolin Soul: Episode 2 when it was released to plaudits and praise three years  later in 2001. Just like the first instalment in the series, Shaolin Soul: Episode 2 featured contributions from the great and good of soul and funk. Critics and record buyers awaited the much-anticipated third instalment in the Shaolin Soul series.

Thirteen long years later, Shaolin Soul: Episode 3 was released and featured twenty slices of blues, funk and soul. Familiar songs and hidden gems sat side-by-side Shaolin Soul: Episode 3 on which like the previous two instalments was compiled by Olivier Carrié  aka Uncle O.

Four more years passed before Shaolin Soul: Episode 4 was released by Because Music France. It features twenty-two tracks from Esther Phillips, Al Green, Eddie Kendricks, Betty Wright, The Dynamics, Ernie Hines, Jerry Butler, Jean Plum, The Staple Singers, Freda Payne and Carla Thomas. They’re part of what’s a welcome addition to the Shaolin Soul series.

Shaolin Soul: Episode 4 opens with Esther Phillips’That’s All Right With Me which is taken from From A Whisper To A Scream. It was released by Kudu in 1971 and is a beautiful, poignant ballad from  Esther Phillips who is a vastly underrated soul singer.

During the first half of the seventies Al Green was one of the biggest names in soul music. In 1975, he released Al Green Is Love on Hi Records which featured the soul-baring Southern Soul ballad Wish You Were Here. It’s not just one of the highlights of Al Green Is Love, but one of his finest moments.

When Eddie Kendricks  released his eponymous album on Motown in 1981, Intimate Friends was released as a  single. It’s a heartfelt ballad and the full version  appears on Shaolin Soul: Episode 4 as the former Temptation showcases his vocal prowess.

In 1968, Betty Wright released Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do as a single on Steve Alaimo and Henry Stone’s Alston Records. Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do is a reminder, if any was needed, that Betty Wright could breath meaning and emotion into a song.

When The Dynamics  released their sophomore album What A Shame on Black Gold Records in 1973, it featured Get Myself High. It’s a beautiful ballad where horns, harmonies  and strings accompany am emotive and sometimes  hurt filled  vocal.

One of the most underrated albums to be released by Stax in the early seventies was Electrified Ernie Hines on the We Produce Records’ imprint. One of the highlights was Our Generation where Ernie Hines combines soul, funk and gospel.

A welcome addition to the compilation is Jerry Butler’s funky and soulful  I’m Your Mechanical Man. It featured on Sweet Sixteen which was released on Mercury in1974 and is one of the highlights of Shaolin Soul: Episode 4.

One of the songs on The East St Louis Gospelettes’ 1977 album Love Is Key was  Have Mercy On Me. It’s  soulful sounding gospel song from The East St Louis Gospelettes who released six albums between 1970 and 1980.

When The Staple Singers signed to Curtom, they featured on the soundtrack to Let’s Do It Again. One of the tracks they contributed was the string-drenched Let’s Do It Again which features The Staple Singers at their soulful best;.

Freda Payne released I Get High (On Your Memory) as single in 1977. It’s taken from the 1977 album Stares And Whispers which was released on  Capitol Records. I Get High (On Your Memory) is a slick, soulful and dancefloor friendly song from Freda Payne that is truly memorable.

Carla Thomas closes Shaolin Soul: Episode 4 with a cover of Bacharach and David’s What The World Needs Now. It’s from her 1966 Stax album Comfort Me and finds Carla Thomas’ staying true to this oft-covered classic song.

Just like the three previous volumes in the series, Shaolin Soul: Episode 4 is the lasted lovingly curated compilation from Uncle O. He’s chosen a mixture of familiar songs, cult classics and hidden gems for Shaolin Soul: Episode 4, which was recently release by Because Music France and is welcome addition to this long-running  compilation series . 

Shaolin Soul: Episode 4.

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