Whenever something boasts the title of being the “true” form of anything, there is a certain caliber that it must possess. Founded in the sixties as the first African American owned record store in Little Rock, Arkansas, True Soul Records became the regional representation of all things funk and soul. True Soul: Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax Vol. 1 & 2 upholds the integrity of the iconic record store and its affiliated culture, living up to its title with an anthology that spans over twenty years of soul-inspiring grooves. The set is an eclectic mix of re-released and newly released tracks that hands the microphone over to underground artists for their well-deserved spot in the limelight.
True Soul is as much about solid musicianship as it is about surveying a diverse collection of soul and funk. Tracks with slower cadences like Conspiracy’s “I Believe (Our Love Has Gone Away)” supplement the upbeat, danceable stylings of The Right Track’s “Maybe Yes, Maybe No.” Scattered throughout the album is also the kaleidoscopic riffs of York Wilborn’s Psychedelic Six. In “Psychedelic Hot Pants,” the funky synthesizer line joins with a gritty baritone and popping congas to create a sound that compels listeners to break their necks with vicious head bobbing force.
Thomas East reigns over the two volumes, showing his diversity in sound with more tracks in the set than his fellow artists. The first disc begins with what is perhaps his best song, “Slipping Around (45 Version).” It’s one part syncopated piano riff, one part rich vocals, and two parts body-warming soul. “Sister Funk” does more to showcase his unique rhythmic flow, which also appears in “Funky Music.”
True Soul is a collection for both soul enthusiasts and music-lovers. Whether you’re a patron of soul or new to the genre, this two-volume set will give you a satisfyingly complex taste of soul from its birth to the funky present.