Prince – Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Ed.

 

Title: Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Ed.
Artist: Prince
Label: Warner
Formats: 8-CD or 13-LP + DVD Box Set
Release date: September 25, 2020

 

Any Prince fan on your holiday gift list would likely be thrilled to receive the new edition of Sign O’ The Times, one of the Prince’s most memorable albums now offered as a super deluxe box set. Featuring 92 tracks across eight CDs plus a DVD and a 120-page illustrated hardcover book with essays by Dave Chappelle, Lenny Kravitz, and various Prince scholars, this set can be considered a bargain. In addition to the original 1987 double album remastered by Bernie Grundman, the other CDs include 63 previously unreleased tracks ranging from single remixes and B-sides to live songs plus a complete concert performance recorded in Utrecht, Netherlands, on June 20, 1987 during the Sign O’ The Times Tour.

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Evelyn “Champagne” King – The RCA Albums 1977-1985

 

Title: The RCA Albums 1977-1985
Artist: Evelyn “Champagne” King
Label: SoulMusic Records (dist. Cherry Red)
Format: 8-CD Box Set
Release Date: September 24, 2020

 

This 8-CD release from David Nathan’s SoulMusic Records features the eight RCA albums recorded between 1977 and 1985 by the iconic Evelyn “Champagne” King. King is one of the primary purveyors of R&B and dance music that helped fuel the disco movement of the late 1970s. The RCA Albums, distributed by Cherry Red Records, is the first-of-its-kind deluxe box set including reissues of all eight albums, handpicked bonus tracks, and essays on King’s time with RCA by two renowned writers.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

Con Funk Shun – Confunkshunizeya: The Mercury Anthology

 

Title: Confunkshunizeya: The Mercury Anthology
Artist: Con Funk Shun
Label: Robinsongs
Format: 2CD set
Release Date: September 24, 2020

 

Con Funk Shun was one of the premier funk and soul ensembles of the ’70s and ’80s. Led by the vocals of Felton Pilate and Michael Cooper, the group produced eight Top Ten R&B hits and the No. 1 chart topping single, “Ffun,” in addition to four consecutive Gold albums. Confunkshunizeya, the first double CD career anthology of the supergroup, includes 32 tracks from Con Funk Shun’s golden years and the full 12” version of “Ffun.”

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Sade – This Far

Title: This Far
Artist: Sade
Label: Legacy
Format: 6-LP vinyl box set
Release Date: September 2, 2020

This Far, the new Sade vinyl box set, offers brand new half-speed masters, courtesy of Miles Showell at Abbey Road. The first of its kind, this set includes all six of the soul singer’s acclaimed albums on pure 180-gram black vinyl. Showell worked from high resolution digital transfers of the stereo master mixes and from the original analog studio tapes, resulting in exceptionally clean and detailed audio that remains faithful to the band’s intended sound.

Reviewed by Chloe McCormick

Bootsy Collins – The Power Of The One

 

Title: The Power Of The One
Artist: Bootsy Collins
Label: eOne/Sweetwater
Format: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: October 23, 2020

 

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend Bootsy Collins is back, hitting us with The Power Of The One, his 25th album release. Bootsy has been a huge influencer in the popular music community for generations. As a bass player, he was one of the first to use effect pedals, particularly the MU-Tron III, which provided the envelope filter necessary to create the squealing synth-like sound featured on many of the songs he recorded as a member of Funkadelic. He was also a progenitor of the slide technique which is used in many of today’s different genres of music. Rolling Stone’s current list of the “50 Best Bassists of All Time places Bootsy at #4, stating that he “redefined soul and funk bass playing in the Seventies, and, by proxy, rap and pop in the Eighties and Nineties. . . You can hear his influence in practically every bass player to come since…” 

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Cory Henry – Something To Say

 

Title: Something To Say
Artist: Cory Henry
Label: Culture Collective
Formats: Digital
Release date: October 30, 2020

 

Singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Cory Henry has released his much anticipated studio album, Something To Say. Produced by Henry himself, the album wonderfully expresses Henry’s wide variety of musical talents in each of its eleven tracks, which tackle subjects ranging from love and breakups to injustices and the effects of being emotionally drained, resulting in a project that artistically reflects the climate of the world today. “I feel good because all of the songs came together and they mean something to me,” Henry humbly advises, “so I hope they mean something to other people.”

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Aloe Blacc – All Love Everything

 

Title: All Love Everything
Artist: Aloe Blacc
Label: BMG Rights
Formats: CD, Digital  
Release date: June 25, 2020

 

Platinum-selling singer, songwriter, producer, and activist Aloe Blacc has released his fifth and latest studio album, All Love Everything. Full of warm, nostalgic sounds, soulful vocals, and an inspiring chorus, Blacc delivers heartfelt, yet grounded, melodies that pull the listener into emotions of love, loss, and many of the in-betweens.

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The War And Treaty – Hearts Town

 

Title: Hearts Town
Artist: The War And Treaty
Label: Rounder
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release Date: August 14, 2020

 

Named the 2019 Emerging Act of the Year by Americana Music Association, husband and wife duo Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter are artists to watch out for as they continue to take the music world by storm. Between their performance at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards back in January, the release of their newest album Hearts Town in August, and their spot as an opener on John Legend’s upcoming Bigger Love 2020 Tour (rescheduled for 2021), The War And Treaty have proven themselves to be a powerhouse R&B duo.

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Valvin “V” Roane – Image a Nation

 

Title: Image a Nation
Artist: Valvin “V” Roane
Label: BBE Music
Format: Digital  
Release date: October 2, 2020

 

Philadelphia R&B/soul singer, songwriter and producer Valvin “V” Roane is making his return with Image a Nation, his first full-length project with Barely Breaking Even (BBE Music) in 15 years. In collaboration with production partners Jontae Slade, Andre Capers and Yameen Allworld, V creates an album that colorfully illustrates the changes in the world around us through both the lyrical and melodic structures within the project.

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James Booker – Classified

 

Title: Classified
Artist: James Booker
Label: Rounder/Craft
Formats: LP
Release date: July 31, 2020

 

As part of Rounder Records’ 50th anniversary celebration, Craft Recordings is offering this remixed and remastered vinyl reissue of Classified, an unjustly overlooked 1982 release by New Orleans keyboardist James Booker, the iconoclastic disciple of the legendary Professor Longhair. On this record Booker performs an eclectic variety of songs, including tunes by R&B legends like Titus Turner, Fats Domino, and Lloyd Price. But he also covers “Hound Dog” (the Leiber & Stoller classic made famous by Big Mama Thornton and later by Elvis), the jazz standard “Angel Eyes,” the 1926 pop standard “Baby Face,” as well as the country classic “King of the Road” and two originals, particularly the scintillating “Three Keys” that concludes the record. Yet in spite of these disparate song sources, it all comes out sounding like Booker thanks to his inimitable musical talent and force of personality.

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The Staple Singers – Let’s Do It Again

 

Title: Let’s Do It Again
Artist: The Staple Singers
Label: Omnivore
Formats: CD
Release date: June 5, 2020

 

In June, the reissue label Omnivore released four expanded editions of classic albums by the Staple Singers, including Family Tree (1977), produced by former Chi-lite Eugene Record; Unlock Your Mind (1978), produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett at Muscle Shoals; and Pass It On (1976), produced by Curtis Mayfield. The fourth release was another Curtis Mayfield production—the soundtrack to the 1975 film, Let’s Do It Again, which featured an all-star cast led by Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Ossie Davis and Jimmie Walker. Recorded three years after Mayfield’s critically acclaimed soundtrack for Superfly, Let’s Do It Again used many of the same personnel from his Curtom house band: Mayfield on lead guitar, Joseph “Lucky” Scott on bass, and Master Henry Gibson laying down the funky conga and bongo parts. The album represented the Staple Singers’ first post-Stax Records release, and features five songs and three instrumentals that Mayfield composed for the film.

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Maceo Parker – Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo

 

Title: Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo
Artist: Maceo Parker
Label: The Funk Garage
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: July 10, 2020

 

Saxophone legend Maceo Parker returns with his first album in eight years, Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo. Parker is best known for his work with the James Brown band and later with Parliament/Funkadelic. Although his solo recordings date back to the 1960s and 1970s, his current solo career really begins with the release of the Roots Revisited album in 1990.

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Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice – No More Silence, Vol. 2

Title: No More Silence, Vol. 2 
Artist: Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice 
Label: Bandcamp 
Format: Digital 
Release Date: July 3, 2020 

As a part of the city of Austin, Texas’ response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless black lives lost to police brutality, Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice was founded by Kate Robberson and Ley Line. On No More Silence, Vol. 2, the project brings together over 30 Austin-based artists who use their music to contribute to the conversation around social justice and Black Lives Matter. 

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Billy Ocean – One World

 

Title: One World
Artist: Billy Ocean
Label: Sony  
Formats: CD, Digital   
Release date: September 4, 2020 

 

GRAMMY Award-winning singer Billy Ocean has released his first new original album in ten years. On One World, he reunites with producer Barry Eastmond, who was responsible for some of his biggest hits, including “When the Going Gets Tough” and “Love Zone.” This release follows a spectacular few years for Ocean. In 2018, the Trinidadian-British R&B singer-songwriter was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in recognition of his international success and the enduring popularity of his music. More recently, he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2020 New Year Honors list for his contributions to music. Additionally, his iconic music videos have all been restored from original tapes and released in HD. All of the excitement surrounding his long due recognition can be felt in One World.

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Brandy – b7

 

Title: b7
Artist: Brandy
Label: eOne
Formats: CD, Digital   
Release date: July 31, 2020 

 

After nearly eight years since her last album, GRAMMY Award-winning singer/songwriter Brandy has released her long awaited seventh studio album, b7. Despite the lengthy period of time between projects, Brandy has consistently been active in the R&B scene, creating tracks like “I Wanna Be Down” and “Ascension,” as well as being featured in a plethora of other artist’s songs and breaking the internet with her recent Brandy vs Monica Verzuz Battle. This exposure has gone a long way toward helping Brandy hone her truly unique sound and style, as well as a high level of production expertise. Her colorful, yet restrained, 15-track project, which she executively produced with assistance from DJ Camper and the late LaShawn Daniels, is truly the culmination of her musical and life experiences to date.

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Adeline – Intérimes

 

Title: Intérimes
Artist: Adeline
Label: Self-released
Formats: Digital  
Release date: July 10, 2020

 

Soulful and sultry vocalist, bassist and producer Adeline has released her highly anticipated sophomore project, Intérimes, a collection of seven songs that incorporates the sounds and styles of R&B, soul and funk. The title of the French-Caribbean artist’s release is a mash-up of the French words “intérim” (the time in between) and “rime” (French for rhyme), noting that each track captures a specific mood as a day turns into night. The project is completely self-produced, allowing Adeline to create music that perfectly complements her style. “Producing my own music is when I feel most complete artistically. Everyone’s process is the best process as long as it’s true to them. Producing is just the way that I love to make music. And the biggest part of it is that it’s fun!”

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Teyana Taylor – The Album

 

Title: The Album
Artist: Teyana Taylor
Label: G.O.O.D. / Def Jam
Formats: Digital  
Release date: June 19, 2020

 

Dancer/choreographer, actress, model, and R&B superstar Teyana Taylor has released her long awaited and highly anticipated third studio album, The Album. With a host of producers, including Taylor herself, this album truly showcases her personality, sexuality and vulnerabilities that lie under her persona. The Album features collaborations from a plethora of artists, such as Rick Ross, Erykah Badu, Quavo, Kehlani, Missy Elliott, Future, Big Sean, Ms. Lauryn Hill, King Combs, Davido, and Taylor’s husband and daughter, Iman Shumpert and Junie.

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Chris Jasper – For the Love of You

 

Title: For the Love of You  
Artist: Chris Jasper 
Label: Gold City 
Formats: CD, MP3 
Release date: June 1, 2020 

 

Keyboardist, songwriter, and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Chris Jasper has had a very extensive and successful career, recording 12 albums as a member of the Isley Brothers, in addition to 16 self-produced solo albums. Jasper has now taken a step back to reflect on some of the greatest compositions he wrote for the Isley Brothers from 1973-1983 in his most recent solo album, For the Love of You. This project is comprised of some of the group’s biggest hits, such as “I Once Had Your Love,” “Go For What You Know,” and the title track “For the Love of You,” a smooth and romantic rendition of the original mid-tempo track. The album also contains covers of R&B and pop classics including Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love,” Marvin Gaye’s “God Is Love,” Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful,” and Diane Warren’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”  

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Mourning [A] BLKstar – The Cycle

 

Title: The Cycle 
Artist: Mourning [A] BLKstar 
Label: Don Giovanni 
Formats: Limited ed. CD, LP, Digital 
Release date: May 5, 2020 

 

The Cleveland, Ohio-based funk and soul collective Mourning [A] BLKstar is a “multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black Culture dedicated to servicing the stories and songs of the apocalyptic diaspora.” Boldly confronting themes of racism, oppression, and injustice, the group’s albums reflect the reality of living in a world that is all too frequently hostile to people of color. Their previous release, The Garner Poems (2018)was a eulogy to Eric Garner and the many other victims of police brutality past and present. M[A]B’s new double album, The Cycle, is yet another epic and thought-provoking addition to the group’s catalog. Set as an 18 movement song cycle featuring vocalists James Longs, Kyle Kidd and LaToya Kent, the group envisions the work as “a humble addition to the long legacy of James Baldwin’s adage of the artist as witness.” 

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Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t

 

Title: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t 
Artist: Kehlani  
Label: Atlantic  
Formats: Digital   
Release date: May 8, 2020 

 

Two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated R&B singer Kehlani has released her long-awaited sophomore album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. The former America’s Got Talent star’s debut album, SweetSexySavage, was inspired by TLC’s CrazySexyCool, providing fun, rhythmic, and exuberant sounds Kehlani’s best known for putting out. Kehlani’s new album is much more pared down, expressing slow and sensual narratives, as much indebted to SZA as it is SWV. For this project, Kehlani collaborated with a multitude of guest artists, from the likes of Tory Lanez, Jhené Aiko, Lucky Daye, James Blake, and Masego, all of which do an exceptional job helping to convey her R&B eclecticism—as well as contributions from producers Boi-1da, Andrew “Pop” Wansel, G. Ry, and many more. 

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Moses Sumney – Grae

 

Title: Grae 
Artist: Moses Sumney 
Label: Jagjaguwar  
Formats: CD, LP, Digital   
Release date: May 15, 2020  

 

Singer-songwriter and producer Moses Sumney has dropped his second studio album, Grae, a generous double album released in two parts covering 20 tracks. Back in 2017, Sumney’s previous groundbreaking, genre-less album Aromanticism was well-received, but saw the musician widely labelled as an R&B artist – much to his dismay. He recently said in an interview: “People always look to define you to understand you, but my identity is this kind of patchwork. It’s not something that can be – or that I want to be – defined.” And now with his second project, Sumney places a great emphasis on this message and his artistic vision.  

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Junko Beat – Satirifunk

Title: Satirifunk 
Artist: Junko Beat 
Label: Drumparade  
Format: CD, LP, Digital 
Release Date: June 5, 2020 

 

Trance-inducing, cutting-edge, and improvisational: all are terms that have been used to describe the newest release from the New Orleans progressive funk outfit Junko Beat. On their sophomore album, Satirifunk, the group presents an innovative musical fusion of New Orleans funk and West African tribal jazz with electronic and Latin-Caribbean influences. The result is a powerful, rhythm-heavy sound that truly captivates the listener. 

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Tower of Power – Step Up

 

Title: Step Up  
Artist: Tower of Power  
Label: Artistry/Mack Avenue   
Formats: CD, LP, Digital  
Release date: March 20, 2020

 

After 50 strong years of music making, Tower of Power is back with their 30th album, Step Up. Known for their wall of sound horn-driven funk, the multi-instrumentalist ensemble has been performing and creating music since the late 1960s under the direction of bandleader and tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo. A Detroit native, Castillo moved to Oakland, CA where he met baritone sax player Stephen “Doc” Kupka, and they formed a band that would soon become known as Tower of Power. After famous concert promoter Bill Graham heard the group perform at the Fillmore in 1970, he signed them to his label and their debut album, East Bay Grease, was released that same year.  

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Thundercat – It Is What It Is

 

Title: It Is What It Is   
Artist: Thundercat  
Label: Brainfeeder  
Formats: CD, LP, Digital  
Release Date: April 3, 2020  

 

Electric bassist and singer/songwriter Thundercat, aka Stephen Lee Bruner, has released his fourth studio album, It Is What It Is. Executively produced by Bruner and Flying Lotus, the project features collaborations from artists such as Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Ty Dolla $ign, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, and comedian/rapper Zack Fox. The new album is the follow-up to Thundercat’s ambitious Drunk (2017), which cemented his genre-defying reputation and provided an evolutional framework for It Is What It Is, which continues the versatile artist’s experimentation with sound and compositional technique. 

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José James – No Beginning No End 2

 

Title: No Beginning No End 2  
Artist: José James  
Label: Rainbow Blonde  
Formats: CD, LP, Digital 
Release date: March 6, 2020  

 

José James’ No Beginning No End 2, a sequel to his 2013 Blue Note debut album, resurrects the eclecticism audiences first fell in love with. Back then, the singer-songwriter was transitioning from Verve Records to Blue Note, and the new release finds James shifting to his own Rainbow Blonde label. ”There’s this beautiful cycle that’s happening again,” James explains. “This essence of it is what I wanted to get back — the idea of courage, freedom, real quality music that’s made without boundaries but still had a cohesive quality. That’s what I did on the first (No Beginning No End), and this one feels the same way.” With No Beginning No End 2, James pays homage to a multitude of musicians who inspired him.   

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Omar – The Anthology

 

Title: The Anthology 
Artist: Omar 
Label: Freestyle 
Format: CD, Digital 
Release date: January 31, 2020 

 

London-born neo-soul singer Omar Lye-Fook MBE, known as the “Godfather of UK Soul,” has now been recording for 35 years. A musical prodigy, by the age of five he was learning to play the drums from his studio musician father and went on to study other percussion instruments as well as piano, trumpet and bass guitar, eventually matriculating at the Guildhall School of Music. Omar’s debut single, “Mr. Postman,” was released on his father’s Kongo label in 1985, and his debut album, There’s Nothing Like This, followed in 1990. From that point forward Omar’s career took off, and before long he was recognized not only as a uniquely talented singer and multi-instrumentalist fluent in multiple genres, but also as a composer, arranger, and producer. All of Omar’s talents are showcased on his new two-disc set, The Anthology, which includes hits from the past three decades along with a few lesser known and previously unreleased tracks. 

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Syleena Johnson – Woman

 

Title: Woman
Artist: Syleena Johnson
Label: eOne Music
Formats: Digital
Release Date: January 31, 2020

 

Singer-songwriter Syleena Johnson’s new album, Woman, is a timely, soulful ode to womanhood as well as a call to action wrapped in deep reflection. Opening with “Woman (intro),” Johnson positions this brief spoken introduction as a centering track that grounds listeners in the journey of empowerment they are about to embark on. Additionally, she guides us through each track with lyrics that illuminate the common threads of strength, resilience, and healing that tie women together.

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Lulu Fall – Between Two Worlds

 

Title: Between Two Worlds
Artist: Lulu Fall
Label: Ropeadope
Format: CD, Digital
Release Date: November 8, 2019

 

Lulu Fall isn’t your typical jazz vocalist – she’s a formally trained singer with a hand in musical theatre productions as well as more traditional musical projects. Her identity as the child of Sengalese and Cameroonian parents – and the resulting inner turmoil of not being American enough for her American peers and not African enough for her African family – is evident in her newest album, Between Two Worlds.

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The Meters – Gettin’ Funkier All The Time

 

Title: Gettin’ Funkier All The Time: Complete Josie/Reprise & Warner Recordings 1968-1977
Artist: The Meters
Label: SoulMusic/Cherry Red
Formats: 6-CD Box Set
Release date: January 24, 2020

 

Released just in time for Mardi Gras, this new box set celebrates the kings of New Orleans funk, otherwise known as The Meters. Featuring guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter, Jr., keyboardist/vocalist Art Neville, and drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, The Meters combined street rhythms with second line vibe and fatback drums to create their own unique, laidback style. Compared to James Brown’s hard driving, frenetic performances, The Meters just let the good times roll through the Big Easy accompanied by a funky backbeat. Produced by SoulMusic’s David Nathan, Gettin’ Funkier All The Time takes listeners on a journey through The Meter’s eight studio albums recorded between 1968-1977, their non-album singles and  bonus tracks issued on previous compilations, plus a few surprises thrown in like beads along the parade route.  In other words, this set has it all.

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Various Artists – You’re Not Gonna Hurt Me (A Valentine’s Day Kiss Off)

 

Title: You’re Not Gonna Hurt Me (A Valentine’s Day Kiss Off)
Artist: Various
Label: Perpetual / EMG
Format: Digital
Release date: January 31, 2020

 

Not feeling the love this Valentine’s Day? Are you experiencing a relationship that has gone sour? Let the sisters set you free! You’re Not Gonna Hurt Me was compiled “to empower women to kiss off those men that don’t treat them with the utmost respect they deserve.” Featuring 15 classic soul tracks “performed by powerful women with powerful voices delivering a powerful message,” this album “serves as a scathing anti-Valentine’s Day card.” Included are songs such as ‘You’re the Dog (I Do the Barking Myself)” by Irma Thomas, “Lot More of Me Leaving (Less of Me Coming Home)” by Ruth Brown, and “Divorce Decree” by Doris Duke, plus gems by lesser known artists like “I’m Moving On” by Chyvonne Scott and “Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)” by Ruby Andrews. All tracks have been newly re-mastered for this release.

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