Don't let the tackily generic, low-budget packaging fool you these three collections are packed with the finest old-school Southern R&B/soul you're likely to hear in two lifetimes. On Deep In My Soul
, Roscoe Shelton's impassioned, Solomon Burke-style vocals bridge older styles of Southern blues with the fervent, gospel-charged vibe of what became known as soul music. Ten years older than peers Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, it is possible Shelton influenced them. Hear him testify on "Strain On My Heart" and pretend to be unmoved afterwards. Behold his debonair pop-ballad approach on "Challenge of Love" and realize from whence Bryan Ferry copped some moves. Earl Gaines' approach is similar, but with touches of uptown polish à la
Johnnie Taylor and Al Green. Gaines reinvents Ray Price's country classic "Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" while preserving its wistful spirit. The late Geeter Davis was closer to the soul-laced blues styles of Albert King and Robert Cray. On The Lost Soul Tapes
, Davis' terse guitar sting adorns his raspy, urgent singing. Be good to yourself grab one or all of these.