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Ghost Canyon

Title - The 'Beautiful Ballads' Collection
Artist - Various

Patti Labelle
Patti LaBelle's 2007 definitive collection of Ballads is a single disc comprehensive gathering that showcases Patti's longtime highs and lows as a singer. The album features just 13 of her tender tracks reflecting her eras with The Bluebelles, LaBelle, and Patti's solo efforts. Indeed, and perhaps from a personal standpoint more than anything, this record does show some of her best tracks - like 'On My Own' with Michael McDonald, 'If I Only Knew,' the seductive 'Love, Need And Want You,' and 'Isn't It A Shame,' sung with her sisters from Labelle. And anyone who is a fan of the lovely lady will know her signature song to be 'You Are My Friend,' which is indeed thankfully part of this sultry collection.

Earth, Wind & Fire
Like a lot of second-wave funk bands, Earth, Wind & Fire were adept at balancing slickness and rawness. While their albums were occasionally spotty, the outfit achieved truly miraculous moments like the rocking "Shining Star" and the gloriously syncopated "September." That said, they were also very ept at constructing more laid back musical wonders, such as 'That's The Way Of The World,' 'Reasons,' ' Fantasy,' and 'I'll Write A Song For You.' And while there have been past compilations of EWF's ballads including "Love Songs", this is an excellent collection to buy if you don't own any of the previous ones. Oh yeah, and the remastering on this set is superb and every song is classic EWF. Highly recommended.

Gladys Knight & The Pips
Gladys Knight & The Pips are one of the most successful groups in R&B history. Gladys' ultrasoulful voice was a nice blend of southern warmth and fiery gospel, while the Pips provided tuneful backup that contained plenty of character. They recorded for several labels over the years and this sultry 14-track collection includes samples from all of them. This wonderfully constructed collection of sweetness includes 'If I Were Your Woman,' ' Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye),' 'Feel Like Makin' Love,' and the ultra smooth classic, 'Midnight Train To Georgia.'

The Isley Brothers - Volume 2
The Isley Brothers were known for their ability to rock the house, but in truth they were an accomplished vocal group before they were anything else. 'Beautiful Ballads, Volume 2' collects some of their sweetest, most soulful slow songs from the '70s and '80s, including 'Groove With You,' 'Footsteps In The Dark,' 'Between The Sheets,' 'I Need Your Body' and 'Insatiable Woman' - performed by Isley Jasper Isley. This second helping of 'Beautiful Ballads' goes beyond being a mere soundtrack for seduction (though that works, too): this is healing music, good for the heart as well as the soul.

The O'Jays
Before Soul and Pop de-evolved into Disco - the scourge from which modern popular music has never really recovered - there were records around that were rhythm-oriented, danceable, and intelligent. That's a combination almost unheard of today! The O'Jays, produced by the legendary Gamble & Huff, were among the most popular proponents of the Philadelphia brand of Soul. Along with a few groups from LA, New York and Miami, the O'Jays took over AM radio in the early and mid-1970s, with great singles like "Love Train," "For The Love Of Money," and their masterpiece "Backstabbers." This fine compilation of 13 ballads just go to show you that grown-up emotions can also play a big part in musical success. Included are tracks such as 'Let Me Make Love To You,' 'Cry Together,' 'Stairway To Heaven,' and 'Family Reunion.' This truly is the best balladry of the O'Jays that's been released thus far in one collection.