When describing this dozen-song odds-and-ends package, the term "scraping the bottom of the barrel" certainly isn't too far off the mark. Not surprisingly, More Sweet Soul (1969) was R&B vocalist Arthur Conley's final solo entry on Atlantic Records' subsidiary imprint Atco. As noted on the rear LP jacket, the material is split between sessions that were held at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, and the American Recording facility in Memphis, TN. In both instances, legendary producer Tom Dowd was behind the scenes. Likewise, it was probably Dowd who -- having worked with the burgeoning fretmeister extensively at Fame during the era -- suggested the addition of guitarist Duane Allman to their already formidable hitmaking house band consisting of guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist David Hood, keyboardist Barry Beckett, and drummer Roger Hawkins. With a lilt that insinuates a reggae influence, the disc kicks off with an affable update of the Beatles' White Album deep cut "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." Another subtle (but telltale) sign that More Sweet Soul was an afterthought rather than career-defining project for Conley is the lack of his own considerable and strong original material. In the instance of his previous outing, Soul Directions(1968), the artist provided a number of the better titles. Although not the rule to the same degree, his co-writing credits here are indicative of the stronger selections. The irresistible groove pulsating through "Aunt Dora's Love Soul Shack" -- which made it into the R&B Top 20 singles survey several months prior to the LP's release -- is one prime example. Similarly, "Run On" bears a syncopated strut rhythm that was an earmark of the funky sounds coming out of Memphis in the mid- to late '60s. The cut also demonstrates Conley's ability to interject himself in the arrangement, bouncing his energetic lead vocals between the horn lines à la James Brown orConley's mentor, Otis Redding. Far from throwaways, the comparably uninspired ballad "Is That You Love" seems to retain none of Redding's trademark gut-wrenching "begging" delivery. To the same extent, the generic "Shing-A-Ling" is far from the best that he had to offer. After decades out of print in North America, Collectors' Choice Music issued More Sweet Soul and the aforementioned Soul Directions on CD in 2008. AMG.
Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK