Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Music in Brief

The Detroit of the '60s seemed to have as many soul labels as it had soul singers, so it's no wonder that the Numero Group's ongoing "Eccentric Soul" series unearthed some gems with its latest entry, Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label. Big Mack had no stars and no hits. It began as a thousand-dollar start-up that later took up residence in a former women's clothing store and functioned part-time as a record-your-own-record joint. (Going rate: $14.95 a pop.) But Big Mack didn't lack for talent or priceless acoustics, and the 19 tracks here offer a miniature alternate history of soul, from the sweet doo-wop of The Manhattens to the stoned Barry White-meets-Millie Jackson early-'70s groove of Essence's take on "Fever"… B+

Hearkening back to a different, though no less stoned, corner of the '70s, the Australian power trio Wolfmother (Interscope) has a serious love for Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and—on at least a couple of tracks of its self-titled U.S. debut—The White Stripes. The band is going to have to find its own sound if it wants to stick around, but it gets a free pass for now for unchallenging awesomeness. (And the Frank Frazetta cover doesn't hurt.) Please continue rocking, boys… B+

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Hardcore Ben Folds fans—and are there any other kinds?—are going to want to pick up the soundtrack to Over The Hedge (Sony), which features six exclusive Folds tracks. It's kid-friendly, but with a subversive edge, particularly in Folds' description of suburbia as a place where "what you take magically regenerates on supermarket shelves." (There's also a cover of The Clash's "Lost In The Supermarket" to drive the point home.) Still, a remake of "Rockin' The Suburbs" with a William Shatner spoken-word interlude is something best heard once and then, if possible, forgotten… B

In 1974, Al Green's girlfriend assaulted him shortly before taking her own life, in an incident that led to Green's recommitment to Christianity. Eventually, he became a minister, and for a time, he recorded gospel music exclusively. Newly reissued with bonus tracks, 1977's The Belle Album (Hi) was his transitional effort, made after breaking with longtime producer Willie Mitchell and setting up shop for himself. A line from the title track sums up the album's masterful tension between earthly desire and heavenly necessities: "It's you that I want, but it's Him that I need." A

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