Review ·

Frequent visitors to Soul-Sides.com, Oliver "O-Dub" Wang's audio blog of rare soul, funk, hip-hop, and the such, know that the man loves him some covers. Although the noted writer, deejay and educator has a Ph.D. in ethnic studies, he has long demonstrated a penchant for history by excavating the dusty, winding provenance of a song from its writing to interpretation(s). In this sense, Soul Sides, Volume Two is closer in spirit to its namesake by tackling one of the Web site's noted features: lesser known covers of popular songs.

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Wang continues the spirit of the previous volume (released last year) by selecting choons with a broad and palatable appeal. Hits abound, from Al Green's searing treatment of the Beatles' breakthrough "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to Antibalas's Afrobeat reading of Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe's nuyorican classic "Che Che Cole." Notably, Wang includes a couple more contemporary tracks this time around, like the aforementioned Antibalas cut and El Michels Affairs' note-for-note re-reading of Isaac Hayes's take on "Walk on By." The latter example -- a cover of a cover -- is the sort of minutia that will likely appeal more to collectors or those with a deep knowledge of music history, but Volume Two is not so much about fun trivia as it is about good music (obsessive heads in search of obscure gems should check out Wang's previous covers collection, Deep Covers, a disc that was originally released in limited quantities and has recently come back into circulation). Wang makes a clearer point here: Regardless of the production values and time period, a good cover is defined by an artist's creativity, enthusiasm for, and appreciation of their peer's work. So, from one writer/deejay/educator to another: kudos!

 

***

Soul Sides: http://soul-sides.com/

Label: http://www.zealousrecords.com/

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/soulsides

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