Wednesday, July 25, 2018


On the surface, this looks like a basic, though strong, '60's soul collection, featuring familiar names Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. And it is a solid set, with many well-known hits and a few surprises to attract fans. But there's also a cool back story.

Originally this was an album released in North America and England in 1968, but the U.K. version was drastically different, featuring an almost completely different track listing. It featured songs that were bigger hits there. It also proved quite influential, rising to #16 on their album charts. A favourite compilation, it's now been reissued for the first time, and greatly expanded, from the original 12 tracks, to 29 total, almost 80 minutes long.

The original mix was pretty cool, kicking off with Pickett's Mustang Sally, sliding into Carla Thomas's B.A.B.Y.. and then gearing into party mode with Arthur Conley's Sweet Soul Music. After Percy Sledge's immortal When A Man Loves A Woman, the cuts get lesser known, with Sam and Dave's I Got Everything I Need and Ben E. King's title track probably not recognizable by the average listener, but still top-drawer. The rest of the original 12 are bigger hits, including Redding's singalong Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) and Eddie Floyd's Knock On Wood.

In case it wasn't obvious, these are all songs from the Atlantic Records label who had the cream of the crop of soul in those days, from its own roster and its distribution deal with Stax. The 17 bonus cuts here are taken from that same Atlantic stable of those years, with some repeats from Sam & Dave and Otis and Pickett, but also some period classics and a few very welcome one hit wonders as well. For those of you who thought Some Kind Of Wonderful  was a Grand Funk original, the first version, by Soul Brothers Six, should make for a pleasant surprise. The Mad Lads rarely make compilations, but their Get Out Of My Life is a fine example of group vocals of the day. Barbara Lynn needs to be better known for sure. Even some of the name artists get some exposure for their deeper cuts, including Eddie Floyd's excellent Big Bird (an airplane, not the Sesame Street character). Yes, you get Dock Of The Bay and Hold On I'm Coming for the umpteenth time, but the overall mix presents one of the best soul collections out there, with enough surprises to ensure that almost every buyer will get lots of tracks they don't already own.

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