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V/A - Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace
by Donny Kutzbach
Eccentric Soul: Smart’s Palace
There’s an oft-repeated point of conversation among many music fanatics and collectors of late regarding the current disposability of music. Gone are the days of hunting high and low for a sought-after track or album. It seems we can have so much music now that it’s often hard to appreciate it all. With the digital boom and ease of the Web, almost any music can be acquired with such little fuss that it’s become less of a commodity. In many cases I can personally admit that a new release I waited for with bated breath can get lost—literally—in the shuffle of an iPod. I often forget about it before I even get a chance to really take it in. All of this makes me love the Chicago-based imprint Numero Group that much more. They aren’t forgetting a thing; instead they just finding more, and make us pay attention. The label unearths music from artists and labels ridiculously obscure and pieces together their lost recorded histories. The results are intriguing and the music great. For Numero’s13th installment in their Eccentric Soul series, the Wichita soul and R&B scene circa 1963-1975 is reconstructed from the grooves of rare 45s and dusty master tapes, and recounted across a lavish, 25-page booklet. At the center of that scene was Smart’s Palace and small-time impresario Dick Smart—bass-playing band leader, music club and record store proprietor, producer and record label owner. Smart and his brothers led a small but vibrant music community in the blue-collar Kansas city. Highlights here are many, and even the most savvy soul music scholar likely hasn’t heard these gems. As with most of the Eccentric Soul collections, these were not the session-precise, perfect creations that came from Stax, Motown, or Atlantic studios. That doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of real gold here. The Smart Brothers’ “Barefoot Philly” is a radio recording with raw and crazed sax-screaming glory. Theron and Darell arguably out-Sam & Dave the Double Dynamite duo with “It’s Your Love.” Kenneth Carr’s infectious “Don’t Hate Let’s Communicate” mixes a bouncy, bass-driven rhythm with a common-sense, spoken-word plea.
Another reason I love Numero: All of their releases—including the Eccentric Soul series—are available on vinyl.
—donny kutzbachblog comments powered by Disqus
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v8n19 (Week of Thursday, May 7, 2009) > Left of the Dial > V/A - Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace
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