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Various Artists Soul Sides Volume Two: The Covers

Not all the artists here conquer their subject matter as fully as Esther Phillips does with Gil Scott-Heron's "Home is Where the Hatred Is," but they all try. O.V. Wright's take on the chitlin-circuit classic "Let's Straighten It Out," for example, finds the underappreciated singer soundtracking his own funeral: It's desperate, and brilliantly so. Blogger/music critic Oliver Wang solidified his name off the screen with Volume One, and his tastes have not faltered. While each of us has a thousand "should've been" inclusions, Wang's selection-including current acts like Antibalas-proves more catholic, and more ambitious, than most.

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