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THE VAULTS / CD REISSUES

Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music: The Best of Arthur Conley," Ichiban/Soul Classics.***

February 02, 1996|ROBERT HILBURN

Conley is a soul singer from the '60s who is best known today for the infectious hit "Sweet Soul Music," whose lyric salutes some of his vocal heroes, including his manager and mentor Otis Redding. But there's much more to consider in this 22-song collection, taken chiefly from his Atco recordings. Like Redding, Conley was greatly influenced by Sam Cooke. You'd swear in a blindfold test, in fact, that it was Cooke singing "Let's Go Steady." Conley was devastated when Redding, who also produced some of Conley's records, was killed in a 1967 plane crash, and wrote a highly personal tribute song, "Otis Sleep On." The tribute tune was released as the flip side of Conley's version of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." Both are included here. Though his impact as a recording artist was pretty much over by the '70s, Conley continues to perform in Europe.

* New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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