Various ‘Mellow Mellow’ 2CD (Harmless) 4/5

Dean Rudland has forged a reputation as one of the most trustworthy among compilation specialists and this latest offering does little to dissuade one of his discerning ears. The focus here is one the more laid back of classic soulful sounds, but in the process it straddles eras (early 1970s through to mid-1980s), labels (Hi and Philly International being particularly well represented) with the odd surprise into the bargain. It has to be said that some of the songs have featured on previous compilations and long-term collectors should expect some repetition, but that does not detract in any way from the quality on offer. Rare grooves from Andrew White with ‘I’m so much in love with you’ and Lou Courtney with ‘What do you want me to do’ impress and when Jae Mason’s ‘Cloud of sunshine’ and Maryan Farra add Satin Soul and their superb living in the footsteps of another girl’ are thrown into the mix, you know you have an excellent set of tunes to select from. Rudland is clearly a devotee of the Philadelphia sound and at some point it would be nice to hear an entire compilation devoted to this city. In the meantime here the Jones Girls’ ‘This feeling’s killing me’ and Teddy Pendergrass’ ‘Heaven knows’ are just a couple of the Philly-based grooves on offer while Jean Plum’s Hi 45 ‘Look at the boy’ is certainly worthy of your attention. At seventy-five minutes per side it is also unbeatable value for money.

Tim Stenhouse