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1. Genius Loves Company
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2. Ray!: Original Motion Picture
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3. Ray Charles: Ultimate Hits Collection
4. A Time 2 Love
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5. Al Green - Greatest Hits
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6. Everything's OK
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7. The Very Best of Ray Charles [Rhino]
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8. Stevie Wonder - The Definitive
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9. Songs in the Key of Life
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10. Modern Sounds In Country and Western
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11. Anthology
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12. James Brown - 20 All-Time Greatest
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13. Ultimate Collection
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14. Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964
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15. Innervisions
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16. The #1's
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17. Sam Cooke - Greatest Hits
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18. The Very Best of the Drifters
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19. At the Close of a Century
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20. The Ultimate Collection [1998]

1. Genius Loves Company
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Asin: B0002F7I9Y
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2
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The fact that Genius Loves Company will be Ray Charles's final new album inspires an unavoidable blue feeling. But it's also a happy reminder that the man spent the last months of his life at work. The overall effect of these dozen duets is not only autumnal, but smooth; Brother Ray is on point and cruising here. Fine moments abound--you can hear his delight even in the rather stiff company of Diana Krall and Natalie Cole. His voice sounds a bit frayed by ill health at times, but it also allows for great performances (the slyness behind the ache in his version of the old soul hit "Hey Girl" with Michael McDonald; a grand "Crazy Love" with Van Morrison). Potently, he and Gladys Knight also remind us of the continued timeliness of Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Help Us All." Its best moments make Company one more essential purchase for Ray Charles fans. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

2. Ray!: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
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Asin: B0002LE9HC
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 11
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Soul and r&b legend Ray Charles may not have lived to see the success of Hollywood's ultimate tribute to him, but director Taylor Hackford's biopic (featuring a landmark performance by Jamie Foxx as the musical legend) will further burnish his legacy as one of the cornerstones of contemporary American music. Though it stretches from 1953's ecstatic, proto-soul "Mess Around" to a sublime, bluesy live take of "Georgia On My Mind" recorded in Japan in the mid-70's, this 17-track song-score can only be an inviting appetizer to the singer's epochal body of work. Charles' artistry may have virtually defined soul music itself, yet it also triumphed in genres as far afield as blues blues ("Nightime is the Right Time") and country ("I Can't Stop Loving You," "Bye Bye Love") during the 60's, the impossibly rich era from which the bulk of this soundtrack is culled. Crucially, fully a third of the cuts here are live recordings -- including electrifying 1965 performances of "What'd I Say," "You Don't Know Me" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So" hand-picked for the film by Charles himself -- the forum in which the singer consistently operated on a whole other artistic plateau from mere mortals.-- Jerry McCulley ... Read more

3. Ray Charles: Ultimate Hits Collection
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Asin: B00000I72B
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 24
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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This double CD collects not only Brother Ray's best-known '50s and '60s singles, but some choice semi-obscurities (the 1953 jump blues "Mess Around," his 1959 cover of Louis Jordan's "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'") that earn their places next to "What'd I Say" and "I Can't Stop Loving You." The man's originality and infectious feeling bleed through on each of these 36 tracks, whether he's transforming "One Mint Julep" or "America the Beautiful" or collaborating (separately) with Willie Nelson and Chaka Khan. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars I will get this double CD to remember Ray......
I recently read that Ray Charles had passed away. This collection will be something I will buy soon as a way to remember him. Ray Charles transcended many genres and could sing all of them so very well. He still wanted to continue making albums too. Much credit to the handlers for finding these 36 songs and compiling them all into one collection. I still love Hit The Road Jack, America the Beautiful, A Song for You, I'll Be Good To You and many others. His music still lives!

5-0 out of 5 stars All Ray, All the Time . . .
What's he say? For black folks, white folks, grey . . . didn't matter to Ray. His gift and talent will be sorely missed. What a voice, what songs! Brother Ray was the inspiration for my starting an R&B group in LA back in '91. We jokingly wished for a radio station to play "all Ray, all the time." We didn't get that wish but we did learn "Shoulda Been Me" and "Let's Get Stoned." My warmest thoughts and prayers go out to Ray up there in that "Big Jam in the Sky," and to Ray's family. What a treasure-trove of sweet music he gave us! God bless Ray Charles!

5-0 out of 5 stars the reviewer from california needs to check his/her history
Ray Charles was and still is one of the greatest musicians ever existed!!!!!!! He was also a great songwriter, arranger and producer and the person who wrote review from california needs to check his/her history BIG TIME!!!!!! Although I like "some" of todays artists, they can't TOUCH the chops of Ray Charles. Those cats out today aren't even in the same BALL PARK as "THE RAY"!!!!!!(PERIOD) Ray Charles influenced the musician in me that I am today!!!! Thank GOD for the gift of having such GENIUS that he WAS, IS and ALWAYS WILL BE!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Some People Can't Be Educated
The previous review of this great artist was written by someone who doesn't understand that genius comes in many forms. Interpretation is the source of musical performance. An artist need not write the music he performs. If that were the case, then we shouldn't listen to Mozart. The guy has been dead for centuries! In fact, considering some of the performers the previous reviewer mentioned, I'm not sure they should be writing or "singing" anything.

Ray Charles was a genius in interpretation of so many genres from gospel to country to blues to R&B to old-fashioned big band singing. He is an artist of the highest order and he will be missed.

This collection is outstanding in terms of the breadth of Ray's work. If you own one collection, buy this or the Ray Charles Anthology from Rhino Records

5-0 out of 5 stars HE WILL BE MISSED

4. A Time 2 Love
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Asin: B0001MSGX0
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 35205
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5. Al Green - Greatest Hits
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Asin: B000002TTP
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 732
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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One of the must-own soul albums, Greatest Hits is fattened with five extra tracks in this reissue. Al Green brought the Memphis Sound into the '70s by slightly softening it, melding smooth funkiness with his miraculous voice and innate sensitivity: his love songs, while perfect for the bedroom, are as conversational as they are blatantly seductive. By adding the likes of "Belle," a 1977 single that's a near-goodbye to the pop life, to the original lineup of "Let's Stay Together," "Look What You Done for Me," "Call Me," and the others, this edition of Greatest Hits also intriguingly fills out the story. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (88)

5-0 out of 5 stars Smooth and perfect - gets better every listen
Why is Al Green so much better than so many recording artists who think that they have soul?

Al doesn't sound forced or unnatural, and rarely shows you the full range of expression of which he is capable. The biggest hit that he ever had, "Let's Stay Together," begins with Al and the background vocalists whispering, and thereafter he does not raise his voice much from that. All the parts are very subtle, with each instrument seemingly arranged to disturb the whole the least. It's simple, danceable, and has real dynamics, even when the songs are generally quiet.

While I appreciate R+B made in the last twenty years, I don't like the group of mainly female vocalists who think that soul is shrieking your way up and down a given scale. Saying more with less notes is the heart of soul, and it makes for a consistently enjoyable listening experience.

Buy this. It's tremendously... for the value, and if you like soul, it will be one of the few CD's in your collection to which you can listen without skipping. In fact, it might even irritate you that fifteen songs is all that's here.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous Album
Al Green was probably the greatest exponent of arguably the greatest American music ever produced: soul. And this CD has that in droves. Listen to the acknowledged classics "Let's Stay Together", "Tired of Being Alone" and "I'm Still in Love With You" and you'll hear perhaps the finest non-classical tenor singing with all his heart, emotion and life experience. When Al croons "Belle... The Lord and I have been friends for a mighty long time", one is that much more open to his spiritual message because it is conveyed in such a beautiful manner. How could what Al's saying possibly be wrong? This is the first Al Green CD I acquired way back when I was building my soul music collection. For the beginner that I was, it made me so much more receptive to and appreciative of this wonderful music. This, in short, is ground zero for soul. Start here, and afterwards get your Wilson Picketts and Otis Reddings.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of My favorites
I love the Best of Albums, and this is one of the best. Al Green is awesome and I love how this was comprised. By the time the CD gets to Love and Happiness, I am in tears. Yet, it is excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Words don't describe
Al Green was bad back in the day, he had that great style all to himself, a gritty southern vibe with lush rythmns, orchstration, and Als gruff but smooth vocals. This Greatest Hits set was released in 75 after Al had scored a string of classic albums for the Hi label, and includes most of the singles. This is such a great listening experience from front to back, it don't really matter if your a serious Al fan with all of his albums or just a casual R&B fan, anybody can dig this set. This new version has been digitally remastered for extra bump plus the 5 extra hits tagged on are cool, my only complaint is that the hit 'Take Me To The River' is missing, one of Als killer jams. That aside, this is still Must Own material for any fan of black music.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great 70's Soul
I only knew 3 of the songs on this album, but I love the rest of it too! ... Read more

6. Everything's OK
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Asin: B00006I8LO
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2298
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The great soul singer made his secular comeback with 2002's I Can't Stop, but Everything's OK is truly Al Green's return to form. Green left the concert stage for the pulpit in 1979, and while his pretty falsetto reading of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" could easily be holy praise, he makes it clear in his asides that he's keeping things on a strictly earthly plane this time. Twenty-eight years after "Love and Happiness," these satisfying songs glide on those emotions as Green celebrates joy and carnal desire. He couldn't be clearer than in numbers like "I Wanna Hold You." When he sings about lovemaking his voice seems buoyed by helium, it's so light, high, and soaring. Green and producer Willie Mitchell made magic together at Memphis's Hi Records in the '70s with their mix of Green's buttery tones and ecstatic cries and deep percussion-, horn-, and keyboard-swathed grooves. They do it again here repeatedly, capturing the élan of their heyday on numbers like the title track and "Build Me Up." If Green's new missionary work is putting a little love in our hearts during these turbulent, conflicted times, this reassuringly titled CD is a great start. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Memphis sound is back!!!
Al Green has always been a favorite of mine.I grew up with soul music as a staple.
I slipped this CD in and I thought I was back in the 70's
His style has not changed at all,I was impressed that he can still(with a little push) hit those same high notes he did when I was a young man.If you want to go back to the better times than this CD is for you.

Everything is more than OK with this stunning collection of unforgettable soulfully charged classics...from the GREAT opening title song, it is clear that Al Green is back in all of his soulful magnificence and more..."You Are So Beautiful" is a ethereal spiritual experience while "Build Me Up" shows that Al Green is at the peak of his wonderous artistic powers! Standouts abound in this awesome collection of original classics and hopefully "The Grammy Awards" and "American Radio" will rise to the occasion of this stellar collection from one of the most brilliant and prolific singer/songwriters ever...this magnificent collection of great songs and tremendous performances define what true greatness is all about in the world of music..."I Wanna Hold You" is a funky jam with a vocal performance beyond compare while "Real Love" defines what great soul singing is all about and is one of the greatest soulful athems ever..."I Can Make Music" is spellbinding while "Be My Baby" is a classic rocking cooker and the soulful trip down the "Magic Road" has the feel of peak Motown at its finest..."Another Day" is totally infectious and contains a wildly passionate vocal that is the ultimate...Bravo Al Green~you are the greatest!!!

"I Can't Stop" brought back Al Green to the forefront of great soul singers and Reverend Green really defines what great soul singing is all about...and "Everything's OK" cements this fact in grand style as it is a stunning set of great originals that find Al Green at the peak of his artistic powers!A masterful vocal with a grand sweeping arrangement make the engaging opening title track a magnificent opener...then on to a deeply heartfelt and sublime "You Are So Beautiful" and any lover of great soulful singing will be in seventh heaven!!!! This incredible collection of originals is all new and complex therefore it takes a few listens to fully appreciate all its nuances and the fastest way to appreciate this masterpiece is to sit down and relax and follow with the provided lyrics-it is a killer collection!!! "Build Me Up" is a great rhythmic love song that has fascinating tempo changes with an exhubertant and great vocal while the deeply soulful "Perfect To Me" contains a smoldering stellar vocal that is perfection...another soul classic "Nobody But You" and its clear that the Reverend is better than ever-those incredible pure highs are awesome to experience and behold and all the vocals on this set are loose, funky and incredibly inventive. Al Green always includes a down and gritty ballad that takes the listener to the heights and depths of soulful bliss and "Real Love" is that masterpiece in this awesome set...can't wait to see Al Green in concert in LA this summer with these classics!!! "I Can Make Music" and can he ever in this wild funky jam that is a sensual soulful delight which includes a really great harmonica by Bobby Rush that makes this one of the real highlights in a set full of them...a hot rocking invitation "Be My Baby" is another winner and any of these with airplay could be huge hits...I hope that American Radio gets it together on this one!A catchy "Magic Road" sounds like another hit as its a great trip down a very soulful lane...Al Green is a creative genius and anyone who gives this set a close listen will agree.A really classic infectious funky jam is the winning "I Wanna Hold You" which is another great defining moment of what great soul singing is all about with its incredibly great complex arrangement and a vocal that is peerless."And I think it'll be alright Another day" laments Al in the inspirational "Another Day" and you can tell he will...closing with the sublime "All The Time" with the hook "But I do my best all the time" and listening to this masterpiece that says it all!!!Bravo Al Green and lets hope that Grammy and American Radio rises to the occasion of your incredible accomplishment...

5-0 out of 5 stars Everything is a Whole Lot Better than OK
This cd is truly Al Green in true form.'Perfect To Me' is my favorite song from the cd and it takes you back to the days when you would hear an Al Green record and no one had to say, "who sings that song" you knew it was Al Green. The same goes for Everything's Ok, this cd sounds like the Al Green I grew up on. It's good to hear some real music. The cd is a must have.

5-0 out of 5 stars My god, what are these people smokin'?
Ok, I confess to being a long-time Rev. Al fanatic.That out of the way, I will confess to being mildly disappointed with the good reverend's last effort, I Can't Stop.It had it's moments as any Al Green CD would, but I didn't think it was up to his earlier classics, which I had worn down to the proverbial nub!I am now listening to Rev's Everything's OK for the first time--and you know what? Everything IS OK!!These people who are dissing this CD either a) aren't long-time fans, b) have some kind of problem with the classic soul genre, or c) are COMPLETE IDIOTS!!Don't waste one minute, buy this fabulous CD and BELIEVE!!! ... Read more

7. The Very Best of Ray Charles [Rhino]
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Asin: B00004R5ZP
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 95
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Flawed CD
The VERY BEST of Ray Charles? I don't think so. How can you call it that when you leave off Ray's most beautiful ballad "You Don't Know Me." I'm trying to find a CD by Ray Charles that carries "You Don't Know Me," "Georgia on My Mind," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," and "Let's Go Get Stoned." Can ANYBODY help me?

5-0 out of 5 stars It's The Very Best Indeed!
Hats off to Rhino for another winning single disc anthology that more than lives up to its title. There was a time I had about ten Ray Charles CDs and felt that, while all were worthy, it sure would have been great to have all the best key cuts from the length of his career on one convenient disc. it is! Thankfully, Rhino opted to include the full-length version of "What'd I Say". The cool part about this set is the way you go from "I've Got A Woman" to "Georgia On My Mind" to "Hit The Road Jack" to "Unchain My Heart" in one sitting! Solid notes, decent remastering, all the key hits. What more could anyone ask for? The first and best place to get into Brother Ray's genius...

5-0 out of 5 stars The Very Best of Ray Charles [Rhino]
The Very Best of Ray Charles [Rhino]~ Ray Charles is a tremedous singer, musician and entertainer. I loved every song on this stupendous compilation. 5/5.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Essential
This is the Essential Ray Charles collection. A must have for any fan. It has the best of the best of his recordings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Best Of Ray Charles In An 18-track CD? Can't Be Done
I would think that, after putting this together and then releasing it in 2000, the folks at Rhino likely wished they had come up with a better title like, say, "18 Of His Very Best." Because, quite frankly, I don't believe it's possible to squeeze the "very best" of Ray Charles into one 18-track CD.

After all, the man put 76 selections into the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1989, and from 1949 to 1993 added another 26 that scored only on the R&B Top 100 singles charts [most of the others charted on both].

As another reviewer points out, there are far too many notable omissions which, by any definition, would have to be included in anything labelled his "very best." For example, while track 5 was a solid R&B hit in 1959 [# 5], but a low # 95 on the pop charts, songs like You Don't Know Me [# 2 pop/# 5 R&B], Take These Chains From My Heart [# 7 R&B/# 8 pop], Crying Time [# 5 R&B/# 6 pop], Here We Go Again [# 5 R&B/# 15 pop], and Yesterday [# 9 R&B/# 25 pop] were smash hits on both.

However, if you can get past the title and just accept these as 18 of his very best it is a welcome addition to any Ray Charles collection. Five pages of informative background notes written by Bill Dahl, and several more shots of Ray, are augmented by a complete discography of the contents showing label and chart details and the musicians involved on each track. The sound reproduction is flawless. ... Read more

8. Stevie Wonder - The Definitive Collection
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Asin: B00006JSS8
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 362
Average Customer Review: 4.48 out of 5 stars
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Like the Beatles' The Beatles 1, this rundown of Stevie Wonder chestnuts is merciless in cutting a huge list of classic tracks down to a single disc's worth of the most recognizable. Anyone who's treasured even one or two of these songs and yet never bought a Wonder record will be more than pleased with the acquisition of The Definitive Collection. These records continue to ring with importance and history, but more important, all except two or three remain fresh and capable of surprising even veteran fans. Those listeners may note, though, that Wonder is among the few performers who could release a retrospective containing 15 No. 1 R&B hits and still invite the complaint that the album felt incomplete--not least in explaining how the man transformed himself from a multitalented teenage hitmaker into the funk-pop visionary of Talking Book, Innervisions, and Songs in the Key of Life.--Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Overjoyed
Lots of classic Stevie is packed onto this single disc collection, no doubt about that. It's in chronological order, which means "Fingertips" kicks off the set--dating all the way back to 1962! A small handful of his early work is represented, including "I Was Made To Love Her," but this set really picks up steam in the middle with his brilliant work from the 1970's. Songs like "You Haven't Done Nothing," "Living For The City," "Superstition," "Higher Ground," "Sir Duke" and "Master Blaster" (actually from 1981) are all brilliant and rank among the very best pop and soul music from that period. Wonder's work declined a bit after that, and although "Part Time Lover" and "I Just Called To Say I Love You" were huge hits, they don't hold a candle to the great stuff mentioned earlier. If you're a casual Wonder fan and simply want the biggest hits over the course of his long career, this is for you. But a strong case can be made for the brilliant compilation "Musiquarium." Then go back and find a reasonably priced collection of his 1960's work. There won't be any overlap, and you'll have all the essential Stevie without any of his lesser works.

5-0 out of 5 stars The definitive Steve Wonder htis collection...for now...
The first collection of Stevie Wonder hits came out in 1968, when he was still a teenager. Of course, as a pre-teen "Little" Stevie gave Motown its first #1 album. In retrospect 1968 turned out to be a pivotal year in Wonder's career, which began covering Ray Charles songs and whose first hit "Fingertips, Part 2" actually came as a pre-teen, because that was the year he finally started writing most of the songs on his album (e.g., "My Cherie Amour"). The Wonder years definitively come in the early Seventies when he was putting out albums like "Music of My Mind," "Talking Book," "Innervisions," and "Songs in the Key of Life." This explains why the middle part of this collection is the best. Stevie Wonder is one of those artists where an album like this presenting his best work should give you impetus to go check out his best albums. Certainly there are artists where a good hits collection is all you need to have in your music library, but Stevie Wonder would not be one of those artists whose distinctive blend of odd riffs, incessant modulations and unpredictable melodies take advantage of his three-octave range. Yes, if you have but one Stevie Wonder album "The Definitive Collection" would be the one to get, but you should also explore at least the middle pair of the above referenced quartet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stevie Wonder - The Definitive Collection
Stevie Wonder - The Definitive Collection~ Stevie Wonder is an amazing collection from a very tallented songwriter and musician. He is intelligent yet not prententious and seems to have great time making his music. A must have...

5-0 out of 5 stars 21 Songs To Adjust Your Mood
This collection is awesome!! Stevie Wonder's music remains timeless. 15 number 1 hits!! Plus 6 more that reigned at the top of the charts! Stevie Wonder's genius cannot be squashed into one CD but they did a GREAT job trying. We all may have our favorites, some have been left out BUT 21 Stevie songs is nothing to complain about. If you grew up with his music, this CD will transport you right back to that time, and leave you overjoyed. A time when EVERYBODY knew all the words to EVERY song, because EVERY cut on the album was great. If you were too young, you still won't be able to keep from groovin' to this CD. Invite some friends & family over. Through the burgers on the grill. Pop in this CD. Feet can't help but move, heads will be boppin', as everyone relaxes to Stevie Wonder's heart and soul he put into his music.

Also, the CD insert is worth reading. A good bit of trivia that they included was how each song rated on the R&B, Pop and Adult Contemporary charts.

5-0 out of 5 stars left out a small number of good songs, but the rest is tight
Love this album, nearly every song is a gem ... Read more

9. Songs in the Key of Life
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Asin: B00004SZWD
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1028
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Songs in the Key of Life (1976) was the highest high point of Stevie Wonder's career. More sprawling than Innervisions and Talking Book, this two-LP-plus-EP was also less of a consistent stunner than either of those masterworks. That Songs retains an enormous amount of visionary relevance, though, is demonstrated not only in Coolio's borrowing of "Pastime Paradise" as a template for "Gangsta's Paradise," but in the cold-as-ice synthesized string quartet of "Village Ghetto Land." This is Stevie, so naturally that cut's anger is balanced by the ultra-buoyant "I Wish," "Sir Duke," and "Another Star." The 2000 reissue boasts radically improved remastered sound. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (133)

4-0 out of 5 stars Digital Sound Defiles a Pop Classic
"Songs in the Key of Life" is truly Stevie Wonder's opus. It is hard to imagine this, having already fallen in love with "Talking Book" and "Innervisions." Many, including myself, consider it to be the greatest pop album ever recorded. It is just about the most magnificent, wide-ranging and deeply moving recording I've ever heard. This record truly displays the depth and integrity of Stevie's gifts as a composer, instrumentalist, vocalist and producer. His choice of musicians on this record (including Herbie Hancock, George Benson, and Greg Phillangaines) is of course top-notch. Musically and artistically it is a masterpiece on every conceivable level. However, I am saying all of this of the original recording, not the one you see here.

I have been trying for some time now to dispell the notion that digital remastering somehow enhances the quality of an older record. I have heard remasters that were excellent, and I think for recordings of the 1950's and 60's vintage they can improve the overall fidelity of early stereo. However, Stevie's albums in the early and mid 70's were also masterpieces of recording technology. I have such fond memories of hearing this record on LP and being so entranced by the warmth and intimacy of the sound. Analog masters sound as though the musicians are with you in the room! Many new recordings lack this quality, sounding sterile and reproduced. I was greatly disappointed with this particular remaster, as well as all of the Stevie Wonder remasters that were recently released by Motown. It sounds to me as if someone simply compressed all of the waves and then cranked up the treble about a hundred notches. Some of the cymbal crashes on this record left my ears ringing, I can't understand why so many people prefer to listen to this.

Having come of age after the advent of CDs, I feel I am being as objective as one can be. I think this is not simply an issue of preference, or analog vs. digital. I think this about preserving and respecting the original 'voice' of the record. Stevie Wonder, in addition to all of his musical accomplisments, was a master producer. He knew what he wanted to hear, and when I listen to the original recording I am so stimulated by the entire sonic experience. There are textures and nuances in many of the layers (especially the intricate bass lines and synth work) that have been obscured by the high frequency, high compression sound format that has somehow become the standard. I am afraid that the fascination with technological advancement has superceded the pure listening experience, and it's disappointing.

Nevertheless, the music speaks for itself. I would only advise that those who wish to hear the album how it was intended to be heard in 1976 buy the original.

5-0 out of 5 stars This Isn't Music. This Is History.
For those who care to know, this is my 1,000th review (ladies and gentlemen, please hold your applause!), and I thought it'd be a good idea to revisit Stevie Wonder's still-influential masterpiece "Songs in the Key of Life." Yeah, he's turned in other classics, and I'm also fond of "Music of My Mind" and "Hotter Than July," but "Songs..." ranks up there with "The Beatles" and Prince's "Sign o the Times" as one of the greatest double albums ever released. I still have the original vinyl edition (left to me by my late father), and very little of the material sounds dated, but all of it ranges from "excellent" to "even better." Wonder is most effective when he sings about love, as evidenced on the still-groovy "As" (which George Michael and Mary J. Blige would later cover), the brilliant "Knocks Me off My Feet" (which Tevin Campbell would later cover), and the ever-memorable "Isn't She Lovely." Other songs that hold a place close to my heart are "Another Star," "Sir Duke," and the soaring "If it's Magic." More than a quarter century since its release, this album has lost none of its luster. A classic album as towering as "Songs in the Key of Life" isn't simply music. It's also history.

5-0 out of 5 stars So Lovely, So Funky
Beautiful, rich color and soul. Kicking up the blues into funk, improv, fusion, and prog. Huge fidelity recoding. Songs are so catchy and well-written. You'll be singing the songs before the first of the 2 discs are even finished. A masterpiece.

5-0 out of 5 stars I couldn't belive...
I walked in to record town with 40 dollars that fatefull day. Totaly disgusted with the music sceen today i drifted in to the back of the store. I looked through the artists and stevie wonder's name appeared. Suddenly somthing came over me and i had songs in the key of life in my hand and i was walking to the cash register. I don't know why i bought it, i don't know what came over me. All i know is that this is one of the best albums of all time. Trust me it wont dissapoint you at all, it will inspire you to do greater things. Don't think, just buy it.

Fav. Songs : Another Star, As, Knocks me off my feet, summer soft, sir duke, if it's magic, ebony eyes, isn't she lovely, have a talk with god, i wish, love's in need of love today, saturn, village ghetto land, pasttime paradsie.


5-0 out of 5 stars ignore songlife's review
it is apparent that u songlife have an incredibly foolish
nature when it comes down 2 stevie's important issues such
as slavery and race in his music. these are important topics
that need be addressed and stevie did it with truth and honesty.
if u r black-well then u r a brained washed negro. if u r white
u have never walked in black peoples shoes 2 understand the
painful effects of slavery and how it still affects black people
even 2day right now at this moment!if u r white, u would not

dare trade places with us black people because u couldn't handle
the stress,strife and racism that we black people have 2 endure
on a daily basis for over 450 years and counting.yes-songs like 'pastime paradise' and 'BLACK MAN'are essential and important 2 stevie's career-or betteryet 4 me and stevie 2 make u more upset about the issues of blacks being oppressed buy stevie's 1971 album 'where i'm coming from'and listen 2
'i wanna talk to you'or stevie's 1980 album-'hotter than july'
and listen 2 'cash in your face' or the track that stevie had
written and produced for the group third world called
'you're playing us too close' from the 1982 album
'you've got the power'/or the track 'its wrong'(apartheid)
from stevie's 1985 album,'in square circle'/or the track
'dark'n lovely' from stevie's 1987 album 'characters'/or the
track 'conversation peace' from stevie's 1995 album
'conversation peace'/now with all that being said i suggest 2u fool- stop living in a 'mickey mouse-disneyland'attitude
because racism is alive and well-because these issues are
important 2 stevie's music-YOU IGNORANT FOOL!!! ... Read more

10. Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music
list price: $11.98
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Asin: B0000032B4
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 517
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan essential recording

Ray Charles is the Genius of Soul, but he's always had a bit of country boy in him, too. Between playing hillbilly piano when he was a kid and landing several duets on the country charts in the '80s, Charles released this 1962 classic, taking 12 country standards and proving that great songs can remain great, no matter what the setting.Behind blaring brass and thrilling strings, Brother Ray transforms "Hey, Good Lookin'" and "Bye Bye Love" into big-band swing; "You Win Again" into the Nashville Sound; and "I Love You So Much It Hurts" into the most elegant of pop."I Can't Stop Loving You" was the big hit, but everything else here is just as timeless and beautiful. --David Cantwell ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars what can you say
that hasnt already been said about Ray Charles' Modern Sounds. Lilting and beautiful melody, poignant and masterful vocal phrasing throughout the album. Can melt the hardest of hearts, and thematically represents some of the more dark aspects of love and heartache as only country and western music can. do you really need the formality of five stars?

5-0 out of 5 stars Modern Sounds in Country & Western
As ever Ray-the Man is ever flexible. He knows his roots only too well. I first heard Ray sing Country and Western years ago on the Album, "The Volcanic Action of My Soul"....Wichita Line Man..was mind blowing....I recently found the reviewed album contained a lot of the tracks I longed to hear again. Multifaceted band, ever brilliant genius...if ever there was a man whose ISness= music then Ray Charles really defies categorization.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Know the Vinyl Album Not the CD
I grew up listening to this album that belonged to my late father. When he was "bar-b-queing" on the patio in the backyard, he'd have his speakers outside from the "Hi-Fi" in the den, and one of the albums he'd play was "Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music." As kids, our favorite was my Dad's favorites, "Born To Lose" and "I Can't Stop Loving You." The day they announced "Sir" Ray had died, I pulled out that album and played it three times. It still sounds good today. You can't go wrong with the CD.

5-0 out of 5 stars A new sad day.
Although I knew that the day would come soon that Brother Ray would pass on, but it still feels like the day came too soon. Ray Charles is one of my most cherished icons on American music. He's done so much! He's taken risks on new ideas even when his advisors were totally against it. This album of "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" proves that. He was told that a black man shouldn't do country music, but Ray said that it was in his heart to do it. And it worked! It ended up being his best selling album ever! It was the Number One album of 1962 for 14 weeks and remained on the pop chart for 101 weeks (according to Billboard, Record Research by Joel Whitburn).

Many of his most cherished hits are here: "I Can't Stop Loving You", "You Don't Know Me", "Born to Lose", and more, plus this CD features three bonus tracks, which were also charted classics: "You Are My Sunshine", "Here We Go Again", and "That Lucky Old Sun". And although "Georgia On my Mind" would have been an excellent additional bonus track, fitting for this collection, you will find that in his box set once you're ready to commit to that purchase. Although, his five disc box set "Genius and Soul" is a great collection, for those of you who are, only now, interested in hearing what Ray Charles has done for pop music, pick up this CD of "Modern Sounds...". Sure, you may want to get one of his many greatest hits CD's that are available. But, you may want to get his box set afterwards while still wanting to keep this one landmark album.

Yes, I am saddened that Ray Charles has passed on. I feel somber just as we all did when Elvis Presley passed away. I hope we're going to see a great documentary on the life of Ray Charles some day. Since I've already mentioned him, it would be nice if they would get around to releasing the Elvis Presley documentary called "This is Elvis" on DVD someday.

Ray, we're all going to miss you. Too bad Ronald Reagan's passing and week-long rememberance and final funeral stole the attention Ray deserves to celebrate his life. I guess they'll get around to it someday afterwards.

5-0 out of 5 stars you da man, ray charles!
i've known and loved this album since it came out. if music doesn't express the human spirit it's just so much deedly-deedly and ol'ray knows what this music says beyond the words - and expresses it with his natural gifts for phrasing, soulfulness, etc. production is kinda gushy 60's but with vocals like this you hardly notice. should be mandatory listening for the nashville hat 'em how good country can be! ... Read more

11. Anthology
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Asin: B00000348K
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 447
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan essential recording

Even for a relatively brief (20-song) overview of Ray Charles's '60s output during the peak of his recording stardom at ABC-Paramount, Anthology covers a hell of a lot of styles. It couldn't be any other way, not when examining the period in which he hit the charts with transformed versions of half-forgotten standards ("Georgia on My Mind"), hip jazz instrumental takes on Clovers tunes ("One Mint Julep"), rocking uptempo R&B ("Hit the Road Jack") and mournful proto-countrypolitan ("I Can't Stop Loving You"). If any of those four titles means a thing to you, this primer on America's greatest singer is probably a disc you should own. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect.......
This is the best mini-collections one can get of Ray's music. I think it's a crime that so many of our legends that are still living are virtually invisible, drowned out by the thunder-thump of some of the digital wizards that pretend to be musical artists today. There is one song I really like that wasn't included her. It's "You Don't Know Me" ("You give your hand to me....and then you say hello...."). This is the music of my early childhood, and it was played around my house along with Cannonball Adderley, Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Wes Montgomery..... oh man, the list could go on and on! I find myself reminiscing every time I come to these Amazon music pages! If you are on a budjet, this CD gives you the most for the least dough. Ray Charles is part of the royalty that gave us the best music of the 20th century. He will be eulogized and all after he passes away, but it's just a shame there isn't enough room in the mainstream spotlight for those that got us here.

5-0 out of 5 stars A SAMPLER OF BROTHER-RAY'S BEST
In 1967 I was stationed at Ft. Benning, Ga. after doing my 1 yr."tour" of Viet Nam. I needed a healthy dose of Soul to re-invent my lost spirits, so I bought a double-album by Ray called "Ray Charles, A Man And His Music", I liked that album so much I kept it, and played it quite often for over 35 yrs. Yikes am I gettin old! I finally gave it away to a friend cuz my record player went to Hell.
Anyway if you like Ray's music even a little bit I think you'll like "anthology" Here are a few of my picks in different
music styles: 1- "I Don't Need No Doctor" (blues-rock) "Unchain my Heart" (blues-rock) 2-"I Can't Stop Loving You (mournful-blues ) "Lets Go Get Stoned" (hard-day-at-work blues)
Buy This One....I am cuz I know what's on it
Later on dudes!!
Blues-eyed Bob

5-0 out of 5 stars Rest in peace, Genius
This CD features recordings from Ray Charles' 1960s heyday. (I have a first pressing of this CD, which features "Sticks and Stones" instead of "America the Beautiful".) This is all prime Ray Charles. He had (for the most part) stopped writing his own material at this point, and instead became an interpreter of any song that struck his fancy. He could take a song from any musical genre and make it his own. People said he was crazy when he decided to record an album of country songs, but it went on to become his best selling LP. This anthology is by no means complete, (it doesn't include his Number Two hit "You Don't Know Me"), but it is a solid hour-plus of Ray Charles at his best. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues God
I own this CD and The Genius of Ray Charles. Both excellent, but between the two, I have to give my thumbs up to the Anthology. "Busted" is enough of a reason to own this album and the entire CD is just as good. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection
If you're looking for one CD that has the best of Ray Charles on it, this is it. There are more complete collections, but this is the best overall. ... Read more

12. James Brown - 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!
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Asin: B000001DUP
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1436
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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A towering figure in postwar American music, for over 40 years James Brown has written, produced, and performed some of the most compelling R&B ever recorded. 20 All Time Greatest Hits! distills Startime!, itself a four-CD set that barely scratched the surface of Brown's prodigious output. As such, this collection concentrates on Brown's best-known records: "I Feel Good," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Cold Sweat." The propulsive one- or two-chord vamps with Brown's hoarse, declamatory vocals laid the groundwork for modern funk. It's a perfect starter set for anyone unfamiliar with Brown's work. But be warned--Brown is addictive. Like peanuts and potato chips, it's impossible to stop with just one. Buy this and don't be surprised if one day you find yourself scouring used record bins for a rare copy of Grits and Cornbread. --Steven Mirkin ... Read more

Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't Ask Why or How...Just Get This Disc!
You can have your Elvis Presley, but for my time and money, you can't beat James Brown for stage prescence, charisma, tight grooves, and cultural impact. His influence in popular music is beyond calculation, and his songs deliver a rush of energy unlike anything you will ever hear. Diehards will probably steer towards his box set, but this single disc collection is just as good. You know the hits, and if you don't, you've definitely heard their samples: "Sex Machine," "The Payback," "Get Up Offa That Thing" and so forth. Serious jams and real insruments with the Godfather himself grunting and screaming throughout. John Lennon once said, "Before Elvis, there was nothing." Well, even visionaries like Lennon can be wrong. Along with Chuck Berry and Little Richard, James Brown is one of the key founding fathers of popular music, and this disc is a great display of his many hits. Priceless and timeless.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still underappreciated genius
If you're looking for a single-disc collection of the Godfather's greatest, this is it.

For most people, James Brown is known for I Feel Good, Livin' in America, and his prison sentence a while ago. Most people have no clue what James Brown really did for American music. He's the acknowledged Godfather of Soul, one of the original and probably the greatest funk master, an R&B legend, and if you've ever bothered to find out where so many rap song samples come from, you'll recognize him at the roots of hip-hop.

This disc is a fine introduction to a career that everybody needs to hear more of. The album starts off with the obligatory and overplayed "I Got You (I Feel Good)," but then we get to hear JB rip it up on the classic "Sex Machine." Then, we get classic after classic including my favorites "Mother Popcorn, Pt. 1," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "It's A Man's Man's Man's World," " Cold Sweat, Pt.1," "Super Bad, Pts.1&2'" and my absolute favorite on this disc "The Payback," a long, slow, heavy, politically-charged piece that really grew on me.

Just remember that this disc just scratches the surface of the JB catalog. You may not be able to afford it, but if you're looking for a great retrospective of James Brown's work, you need to get the Star Time box set. It includes career highlights from the 50's all the way to the 90's.

I hope you take my advice and get this album because it's a great testament to an artist who remains underappreciated by most people.

1-0 out of 5 stars This is not complete!!!
This should have had Livin' in America!!! That song would make it complete!!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Faultless compilation of soul and funk
James Brown is without doubt one of the greatest popular musicians of the twentieth century. Listen to this album and find out why.

5-0 out of 5 stars The true Elvis
After Chuck Berry, James Brown is possibly one of Rock and Funk's most undeniable forces. This twenty track collection is only a small sample of the sound that is James Brown. Some criticize the repetition found in alot of his music, but this is due to the point that though many of his songs contained conscious elements, he was first and foremost an entertainer that specialized in dance. It can be claimed that not only is James Brown the creator of Funk, he is the catalyst for the obsession with Dance music that continues in several genres of music in America. James Brown was created to truly move the crowd and keep them off the wall. Mission Accomplished. ... Read more

13. Ultimate Collection
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Asin: B000001AMZ
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1379
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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A brave effort at cramming one disc full of Temptations classics, The Ultimate Collection nevertheless makes a couple of puzzling choices. Why, for instance, include "Error of Our Ways," a very minor mid-'90s hit, and ignore "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" or "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)," both number ones from their classic period? Still, for the price, it's hard to argue with. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (30)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Nice Sampling from a Classic Motown Act
The Temptations were wonderful. David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and Melvin Franklin were a part of the original hit making lineup in the sixties. This CD has some good classics, but like said before; where's "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep"?! Do we really need "Error of Our Ways"?! That is hardly a great song. Otherwise, while listening to this CD it's good, but you still feel more needs to be there. A nice sampling though!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the great Motown groups
This is not quite the ultimate Temptations collection, but it comes close. You could never fit all their great songs on one CD anyway, but the compilers were clearly determined to include some of their later recordings - the last three tracks on this CD. Angel doll, though recorded in 1967, was not one of their big hits - indeed, it was not even released at the time. The inclusion of these four tracks at the expense of real classics, including Beauty is only skin deep, devalues the title somewhat.

Despite the omissions, this is the best single-CD collection of Temptations music currently available and contains many familiar songs. It begins with The way you do the things you do. A big hit in America, it did not chart in Britain. I first came across the song via an excellent cover by Rita Coolidge, but the original version is impressive. Other classic sons here include My girl, Get ready, Ain't too proud to beg, I wish it would rain, Cloud nine, I can't get next to you, Ball of confusion, Just my imagination and Papa was a rolling stone.

Anybody seriously interested in sixties music in general and Motown in particular will enjoy the Temptations. Unless you want to go for a double-CD or a boxed set, this is the CD to choose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good sample of the soulful, tempting Temptations!
This is a terrific compilation from probably the best Motown act ever! Yes, there are few errors here: songs like "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep", "I Could Never Love Another After Loving You", "Loneliness Made Me Realize It's You That I Need", and "Psychedelic Shack" are missing. I think I can understand why Motown did what they decided to do with this. The Temptations were a really special group, and their musical output was beyond vast, both with their hits and misses. A wide overview of this output was given and not just stuck to the same era. That's why songs like "Treat Her Like A Lady", which is from the '80s, and "Error Of Our Ways", from the '90s is on here.
I don't why an a capella version of "My Girl" is here, though. If the four songs mentioned above were on this disc, it would be perfect running at nearly 80 minutes. Things were done to preserve continuity. All in all, you can't resist the temptation of purchasing "The Temptations: Ultimate Collection."

2-0 out of 5 stars It makes you cry...for the wrong reasons
For a serious Temptations fan (exempli gratia, ego) this is a pretty lousy and insufficient compilation. The pattern of lineups in this group can best compared to Lynard Skynard-there are so many flamin' line ups that it gets to the point where it's not the same group anymore; it's just the Temptations by name only. David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, all of them gone. If you ask me, the real Temptations died the early 1970s. In place of indispensable gems of their golden years (id est, the REAL Temptations) such as "Slow Down Heart", "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep", "Just Let Me Know", etc. this "ultimate collection" includes mediocre, (relatively terrible) latter cuts such as "Error of Our Ways". If you endeavor the enchanted staggering, and soul-moving work buy their studio albums prior to 1976 like "Meet The Temptations" and "Temptations Sing Smokey"; the earlier the better. They are more rare, but they are worth the purchase. Also, almost any other Temptations hits compilation is way better. I give this one an extra star for the beautiful closing track, the acapella of "My Girl". It makes me cry and reminds me:


5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE THE WAY YOU DO THINGS YOU DO
TEMPTATION!! ... Read more

14. Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964
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Asin: B00009N1ZV
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1695
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Soulful Songs And Stories Cooked Up On Essential Hits Set
This 30-song, one disc collection is Sam Cooke's most lovingly presented and essential single disc released to date. It builds on his 2LP "Man and His Music," itself a revelation when released in the mid-1980s. This set tops it due to remastered sound (this CD has a layer playable in Sony's SACD format), and R&B scholar/author Peter Guralnick's detailed liner notes. Guralnick, author of several books on Southern rock and soul, examines the roots of all 30 songs, performers backing and dueting with Cooke, his inspirations for writing and singing them.

This is important because Sam Cooke's songwriting and storytelling skills are as much his legacy as his Gospel music beginnings, his mysterious, untimely 1964 murder, and his influence on Steve Perry (whose "Lovin' Touchin', Squeezin" was a Cooke tribute of sorts), Rod Stewart (who claimed he listened only to Cooke records for two whole years as a teen), Terrence Trent D'Arby and a generation's rock and R&B singers.

Cooke's chart hits are here, except for the relatively minor "Soothe Me" and "Frankie & Johnny." You get his gentle, intricate vocal trills on his first singles for the Keen in the 1950s (1957's #1 "You Send Me," "Wonderful World," "Cupid"). You get his rethinks of country, blues, even pop standards ("Tennessee Waltz" becomes a gospel rave up; "Little Red Rooster" a slow churn blues with a teenage Billy Preston's extra cheesy organ, "Summertime" a vocal showcase with offbeat rhythm and guitar). Finally, you get Cooke's rollicking humor and detailed lyrics on his dance hits ("Shake," the dancers' garb and moves in "Twistin' the Night Away," the hip DJ requests in "Havin' A Party.")

Guralnick refers often to Cooke's phrasing, which found soul and poetry approximating daily speech. On his greatest artistic achievement, 1964's finale "A Change is Gonna Come," Cooke tops even himself. He takes Bob Dylan's lyrical challenge in "Blowin' In The Wind" (which Cooke admired for being written and performed as pop by whites) and, through hopeful words sung as near-weeping laments, he approximates the timbre and granduer of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech given less than a year before.

"Portrait" set is bookended with Cooke leading Gospel's legendary Soul Stirrers for two songs. They not only define soul's gospel roots but showed Cooke sang a great Bible story as easily as from a cha-cha crowded dance floor, highway prison road gang, or lonely room. For more, reach for his dark, mellow "Night Beat" or the "Man Who Invented Soul" multi-disc. Ultimately, "Portrait" underrates itself; it's more like a small, soulful slice-of=life gallery from one of music's seminal artists.

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 Star Magic from the best voice ever but read before buying
What can I say about one of the most inspiring/soothing singers of all time? Sam Cooke possessed the sweetest voice in soul, and his elegant vocal style inspired almost every singer worth his nickle. He was also a terrific songwriter, and the string of hits created prior to his death in 1964 was unrivaled.

I can hear this CD non-stop for days, weeks,.... It should be mandatory for all singers to listen to this release as it showcases a singer whose delivery was so elegant and did not have to go through vocal gymnastics to bring it home. It did not matter whether he was singing traditional pop, soul, gospel, or (you name it), as it all came back to Sam's voice and elegant delivery.

This collection has all the songs, including the indispensible "A Change Is Gonna Come". Sam's version continues to be THE definitive version and any collection that overlooks it should be banned. As you can imagine I give this my highest recommendation. Also worth noting this release has been remastered to blow away all previous efforts and unlike the previous single CD greatest hits collection, this one has an informative insert that tells us a little bit about the history of the songs.

NOTE: This state-of-the-art digital audio release titled is a magical 31-track greatest hits release that has been replaced the already amazing "The Man And His Music," a 28 greatest hits collection released in the 1980s. There is one downside to the CD as it is a hybrid with SACD capability, so that it will play in regular CD players and those with the SADC technology. The only problem lies in that, like other hybrid SACDs you cannot make a personal copy or grab any of the songs to put in a personal mix. For me that is a huge downside as I make lots of mixes to reflect different moods and favorite all time songs; notwithstanding if you just plan on listening to it and don't mind that you won't be able to pick and choose songs to make a mix, there is no better choice than this release.

During 2003 and now I've found myself listening to the new releases by Al Green and Ron Isley as well as this release, and I am reminded that new artists have it really hard as Sam and others raised the bar so high and so early that it makes it virtually impossible for anyone to make better sounding music. There are some out there who show much promise and I am always trying to support them, but Sam is Sam and God bless him.

5-0 out of 5 stars OUTTA SIGHT!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Cooke collection so far
The treatment of the music of the definitive soul singer, Sam Cooke, during the CD-era, at least so far, has fallen far short of his contributions. Complicating the situation is the split ownership of his catalog. The now out-of-print "Man And His Music" was a decent compilation of Cooke's charted hits but was deservedly criticized for some poor mastering and resultant less-than-optimal sound quality. RCA/BMG released a much better sounding "best-of" a few years ago but by then the later Cooke tracks controlled by ABKCO were not made available for that piece, leaving it as a frustratingly unfinished career retrospective. This collection is from ABKCO and therefore contains those later recordings but fortunately and ironically, contains the earlier stuff, being licensed from RCA. With all this ownership infighting overcome, we finally get a truly high-quality, well-executed overview of the music of Sam Cooke. From a sampling of his seminal early sides with the Soul Stirrers up through his pop and smooth soul golden age on the charts in the mid 60's, this piece represents a "must-have" for any serious or casual CD collection. The generous 30 tracks in the best sound yet with many in stereo, the exceptions being tracks 1-3,5-7,9,10,15,30, is accompanied by an informative liner notes booklet with info on each of the included tracks. As a collector, due to their inane refusal to license anything they control to other willing CD producers, this reviewer bristles whenever seeing the ABKCO name, but credit must be given where credit is due. And here, Cooke's material gets the treatment it deserves. An absolute must.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Single-Disc Portrait of Soul Music
James Brown may be the Godfather of Soul, but Sam Cooke created the genre--and no one has done it better since. His first charting single, "You Send Me," sold two million copies and was a No. 1 pop hit for three weeks in 1957. Cooke would go on to place 29 singles in the Top 40 (including three after his untimely death in 1964), and 22 of them are included on this collection.

For fans who have been lamenting the deletion of the 1986 collection THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC, this new anthology is welcome news indeed. Not only does PORTRAIT OF A LEGEND duplicate all but five of that earlier collection's tracks (including the poignant "A Change Is Gonna Come"), the disc is playable as a regular CD and as a Super Audio Compact Disc. [I don't have an SACD player, but the sound quality on my regualr CD player is nothing short of stunning!]

Fans who were hoping for a generous sampling of Cooke's work with the Soul Stirrers will be disappointed. [And the title which includes the dates 1951-1964 would certainly lead you to expect as much.] However, the only Soul Stirrer's track is the gorgeous "Jesus Gave Me Water," recorded during his first sessions with the group just two months after joining in 1951. {Every other track was recorded between 1956-1964.]

Another plus to this new collection is the informative 32-page booklet. Author Peter Guralnick (who is working on a biography of Cooke) includes an essay and insightful track-by-track commentary on each song. Recording session information is included for every track including dates, producer, and musicians used.

The album closes with an uncredited 32-second interview. The interviewer asks Cooke to hum eight bars to show the listeners what soul sounds like. After he's done, the interviewer states,
"Sam Cooke's yours; he'll never grow old." He's right. ESSENTIAL ... Read more

15. Innervisions
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Asin: B00004S363
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2579
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the great recordings of the century.
In his prime (c.1971-1982), Stevie Wonder produced a body of music that ranks among the most original, innovative and consistent ever created. As a composer, lyricist, drummer, keyboardist, harmonica virtuoso, producer and arranger, Stevie was the very epitome of the independent creative artist, and almost entirely self-sufficient at that. "Innervisions," along with 1972's magnificent "Talking Book," is arguably his finest hour. Nine extraordinary songs, with Stevie's finest set of lyrics to accompany his rich, intricate music and arrangements, display a true musical genius at his most intensely creative. "Innervisions" has been universally acclaimed as a landmark recording since it was released and it is easy to see why: there is nothing here short of excellent, and most of it is among Stevie's very best. And not only is the material virtually peerless, but Stevie's production was also unique--in addition to playing almost every instrument on the album, he was busy using synthesizers in ways no one else had ever imagined they could be used. If you buy only one Stevie Wonder record, let this be it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Arguably Stevie's Best
A friend first got me into Stevie, and now I own what you might term the five essential albums - Music of my Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness, and Songs in the Key of Life. After that, let's be honest, he turned into a pile of poop, but boy were the 70s a good decade. Each album is a fantastic record, and Innervisions is perhaps the best. Personally I favour SITKOL, as it is more varied and simply bombards you with musical genius on all sides.

Yet Innervisions is the greatest of the albums Stevie produced when he was doing pretty much all the stuff himself. He plays virtually everything on this record - listen to Living For the City, and you'll be amazed that he's playing every instrument. Whereas SITKOL has a proper 'big band' feel, because he brought in lots of other musicians and created a real wall of sound studio feel, Innervisions remains intimate and personal. That's what gives it its charm.

Unquestionably, these are 9 great songs. Plain and simple. Golden Lady is one of my favourites, a gorgeous song. But Too High is a great opener, All Is Fair in Love is a suitably over the top love ballad, Don't You Worry is a brilliant funky number, and Misstra Know It All (spelt like that because he just wanted to, and about his accountant, apparently) is fantastic, especially the growling finale. Stevie is also the master of the outro, and some can last for several minutes. Don't You Worry and Misstra are ones to look out for here is you are a fan of the over indulgent fade out (as I am). But SITKOL really has the monopoly on outros, and if you're a real connosieur, that's the album for you - look out for As and Another Star in particular, though Isn't She Lovely, Black Man and Summer Soft also clock in impressive repeated choruses.

Stevie is an idiosyncratic musician. Listen to the six second pause on Visions, where he says 'everything must have an ending' before coming back with the next line - geddit?! That's what makes him appeal to me. He has more talent in his sunglasses than most popstars have in the combined body mass of them and their hundred-strong entourage. This is a great album, with immaculate instrumentalism, superb lyrics, that fantastic voice which can do seemingly anything, and funky, groovy, melodic tunes. You should buy this, and then move onto other Stevie terrority, according to taste.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank You Stevie
"Innervisions" quenches my musical thirst. At thirty years old, it is beyond categorization and is a stellar album on so many levels. It is a marvel of studio production. The music is outstanding and (with the exception of a few instruments) is all played by Stevie. It has so much depth, but is so well put together. I frequently pick up on little nuances I hadn't noticed before. The vocals are unbelievable. Stevie Wonder has a beautiful voice with an amazing range and great control. On "Innervisions" he shows that he knows just how to use it and how not to. It's something that you just don't hear from today's popular singers and that is a shame. What I think makes this album so phenomenal and separates it from so many others is the songwriting. So often great music lacks lyrical substance or vice versa. Such is not the case here. The content is insightful, spiritual, socially relevant and presented in a creative and coherent way. It all comes together in nine songs at around 45 minutes. Of all the great albums I have ever listened to this one is my absolute favorite. I would like to thank Stevie Wonder for giving the world this timeless musical treasure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stevie's Best
This is easily Stevie Wonder's best CD. Though his previous "breakout album" Talking Book did have some innovative tunes, to me it was hindered by a few overly sappy love songs. "Key of Life" is a great album, but isn't as concise. There is only one traditional love song on Innervisions ("All is Fair in Love" is a sad reflection on relationships, but certainly not a romantic ballad). Here's a track by track analysis

1) Too High: Jazzy cautionary tale about drug abuse and its consequences, but subtle enough not to be overtly preachy. It captures the feeling of an addict who exists only to "touch the sky" but never gets there. Outstanding drumming by Stevie (yes, he plays the DRUMS too!!).

2) Visions: Utterly stunning in its beauty. The acoustic guitar work is second to none.

3) Living for the City: The "epic" of the CD describes the tribulations of a man raised in poverty in the South only to find more poverty upon his migration to the city. Yeah, the interlude section is a little cheesy, but still effective and with great vocals as always.

4) Golden Lady: I love how this song keeps going up a key in the end, which signifies the yearning of the singer for his lady. What a great love song.

5) Higher Ground: Once again, outstanding drums and a very funky beat. Like most in my generation, I heard the RHCP cover first (which is a decent interpretation), but it didn't take long to me to realize that this is the definitive verision.

6) Jesus Children of America: Stevie boldly confronts religious fundamentalists, junkies, and even the listener, challenging all to "come clean," all while being backed by insistent gospel harmonies.

7) All is Fair in Love: Laced with agony and pain, Stevie teaches us all about the difficulties of a romantic relationship.

8) Don't You Worry Bout a Thing: A great song about being there to support a friend who is going through a transitional period. Very comforting.

9) Mista Know-It-All: Some think this song is a bash on President Nixon; others interpret it as a stern message against arrogant street hustlers who are looking to corrupt inner-city youth. However you interpret it, it is certainly an effective kiss-off and a creative way to end the album (as opposed to ending it with a sappy love song).

People who have only ever heard "Part Time Lover" may have a hard time accepting Stevie Wonder as a genuine artist, but trust me and the other reviewers, this CD is different. You will not regret buying it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Visions of a Prime Stevie
Stevie Wonder was established as a major talent by 1973, with his previous two albums 'Music Of My Mind' and 'Talking Book' he had abandoned the shackles of Motowns pop-soul hit machine shackles to craft inventive funky and soulful albums in his own unique & distinctive style.

The 3rd album in this vein was 'Innervisions', which has to be one of the mans crowning achievements. 'Livin' For The City' still sounds titanic, an awesome number, as is 'Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing' and the opening 'Too High'. Not only was the mans music incredibly funky but he was now covering issues such as social ills and politics. The closing 'He's Mr Know-It-All' is an enjoyable piano-led groove, and with so many classic cuts on one album this in itself could run like a Best Of record. Theres a nice vibe that runs through this album and the production is real high quality.

This is his 3rd essential in a row, and you have to admire the work of Stevie Wonder what an incredible back catalogue this guy was able to create in the 70s. ... Read more

16. The #1's
list price: $13.98
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Asin: B0000DD575
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2748
Average Customer Review: 3.97 out of 5 stars
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In the path of enormously popular collections of number one singles by Elvis and the Beatles comes this crammed (seconds shy of the 80-minute mark) disc from another pop-culture icon, Diana Ross & the Supremes. 14 Diana Ross/Supremes tracks appear in some of their most vivid sound ever, while the post-Ross Supremes get their due with "Stoned Love." Ross’ Hollywood years make for the weakest music here ("Touch Me in the Morning," "Endless Love"), but disco smashes "Upside Down," "I’m Coming Out," and "The Boss" prove as smart, canny, and enduring as Supremes 45s like "You Keep Me Hangin’ On" and "Reflections." The contemporary, yet already dated, remix of "Hangin’ On" at album’s end suggests, in fact, that Ross might make one more dance-floor comeback if paired with the right behind-the-scenes team. Basement Jaxx, anyone? --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (67)

5-0 out of 5 stars Supremely Amazing, Supremely Different
Looking to start your Diana Ross and The Supremes collection? This is THE CD to do it with. Already got the hits? Well, you need this too, because the versions are different, and better than ever!

This collection is amazing and worth every penny. Unlike other compilations that have been remastered, the first 15 songs on this compilation have been REMIXED from their original 3, 8, and 16 multi-track session tapes! For those who don't know, remastering and remixing are very different. Now the songs are crystal clear, have longer fades, and the mixes are a vast improvement. They sound like they were recorded yesterday!

Another reviewer inaccurately wrote that the versions between older compilations are indistinguishable, but he is so wrong. The differences are like night and day. I guarantee it!

Harry Weinger, Andrew Skurow, Jeff Moskow and Suha Gur did an incredible job on this compilation. They must be fans because the proof is in the results. I like their past compilations on Diana Ross (The Motown Anthology, diana - Deluxe Edition, To Love Again), and the Supremes (DR&S Anthology, The '70s Anthology, Rodgers And Hart), but this time, they've outdone themselves. Thank you guys, and keep up the great work!

This collection is wonderful! It includes the best #1 hits, and a few that were #1 on dance charts, AC charts, R&B charts, and regional charts. They even mention other number ones that wouldn't fit on the single disc and TELL YOU where you can find them!

Finally, the Almighty remix is incredible. It has club hit written all over it. These guys have done the best remixes on Cher, Elton John and JLo.

Again, this is the perfect set to to have. You won't be disappointed! Buy it now!

5-0 out of 5 stars NEW AND OLD, YET STILL A CLASSIC
This collection is fabulous, and here's why:
1. This collection is strictly the number ones (Pop, R&B, AC and Dance). If you want just one collection in a neat package, this is it.

2. The songs are newly mixed for clarity and many songs have extended fades. The songs actually sound better than any other collection out there, and not slightly, the differences are truly amazing. One cannot hear the difference on a streaming download, the proof is in the purchase.

3. For those purists who want original mixes, or perhaps more hits than exist here, there are MANY Supremes collections currently available: The Ultimate Collection (Mono masters), Anthology (Stereo masters on 2 CD sets for DR&S, 70s Supremes and Diana solo), a box set, and countless others.

4. Some people are giving this CD less than 5 stars because they want the original albums (there are over 30). I don't think this CD deserves to be penalized this way. Besides, Motown's new Hip-O select line will surely re-introduce several of these albums in the near future, I look forward to it.

Bottom line: Buy this CD, it's well worth every penny...and what a great price!

1-0 out of 5 stars The New Motown Is To Blame
First of all, let me say that if nothing else the cover is beautiful and the pictures were enjoyable. I'm a young woman, however the songs that were released on this album are the same songs that I have always indenifed with the Supremes and have therefore been on compilation after compilation. Where are the previously unreleased tracks? As a buyer, this is the last time I will be sucker to nice packaging & promotion by the likes of Motown. Give us the gems that haven't seen the light of day and it would be nice to keep the ones that are already known in tact! Some of this material was downright butchered.

4-0 out of 5 stars The new mixes are Supreme! BUT --
Tracks 1 thru 14 on this CD are amazing. Track 15 is not as good as the original. Track 24 is fantastic (the new dance remix!)

BUTT - What about tracks 16 thru 23 - the Diana solo #1's???

These are unfortunately BADLY REMASTERED. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is not the wonderful mono single mix that appears on "The Motown Anthology" or even the stereo single mix from "Motown Year-By-Year: 1970". It is a murky, muddled mess that sounds like it was culled from one of the old 80s CDs.

"Touch Me In The Morning" is - criminally - the early fade rather than the sublime long fade (3:52) that first appeared on "All The Great Hits" and was mixed and remastered by Paul Elmore.

"I'm Coming Out" is slightly SPED UP! It is actually noticeable upon listening. The best mix of the single mix is to be found on the "Disco Years: Vol. 4", remastered by the guru Bill Inglot. And for the best remastered single mix of "Upside Down", you must get "Billboard #1 Dance Hits: 1980", also remastered by Bill Inglot!

Ultimately, while most of the new 1960s Supremes mixes are exciting and pleasing on the ear, the Diana Ross solo mixes on this CD are shoddy. The Diva deserves better!

5-0 out of 5 stars Diana Ross and the Supremes the #1's
I buy every every Diana Ross and the Supremes Package because Holland Dozier Holland produced the greatest songs of the 1960s.The Supremese remain tyhe best charting group in American history. 19 top ten hits including 12 number one hits in just eight years.The HDH team is the greatest American-born composers of the Rock Era., and maybe their race is the cause of them never getting grammys. All together HDH produced and wrote 12 number 1 and 27 top ten hits in four years. Only Lennon and McCartney surpass them. Each song is memorable and delicious. The remix of "You Keep Me Hangin'On" is worth buying the disc by itself. I liked some of the new re-mixes of the other songs. Diana's music was an addied bonus. Imagine what could be done with other songs by the Supremes if remixed with some verve and nerve? Each song is good,it is too bad that there were not more re-mixes. They are Supreme angels of 1960s and 1970s Rock and Soul. They just keep me and all their other loyal fans hanging on for the next re-issue. These sisters were aand are the paragons of glamour and good taste. Nobody will be unhappy with this package. The Diana Ross song are classy anbd remind us that before BET African Americans could be romantic and funky and en vogue without looking, dressing, and singing like self-hating stereotypes of demimondain in black-face. The showman ship and dedication to excellence with always made new fans for these girls from the Brewster Projects. They will never be replaced given the current crop of performers with no respect for themselve or their race. ... Read more

17. Sam Cooke - Greatest Hits
list price: $18.98
our price: $13.99
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Asin: B000006389
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2461
Average Customer Review: 4.48 out of 5 stars
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Now we have Greatest Hits, a 22-song collection of Cooke's pop hits in addition to the 13-song Best Of collection and the 28-song The Man and His Music. Only The Man comes close to presenting a complete portrait of the legendary soul singer: At least there are examples of Cooke's gospel and R&B material. (Any collection without "A Change is Gonna Come" is an automatic failure.) Cooke's melodious voice and deft songwriting touch are worthy of more than a single-disc compilation. If you want just the pop smashes, the sublime ballads, and infectious mellow grooves, this set will suffice. Otherwise, The Man offers a more comprehensive and well-rounded look at Cooke's legacy. --Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Main Course of Cooke
There are only two Sam Cooke compilations which I would say are comprehensive.First is the 3-record set The One And Only Sam Cooke,a mail order album by Candlelight Music(with a blue RCA label) from 1974.The second was The Man And His Music his first CD-era compilation which included the full-lenghth version of A Change Is Gonna Come.Unfortunatly these two are out of print(if any one can give me information on how to get a copy of The One And Only...please Email me).This 1998 hits collection is an essential because the tracks are remastered,bringing out the clarity in the instrumentation(especially the strings and french horn on Cupid)and also the inclusion, for the first time in the digital era,Frankie & Johnny,Send Me Some Lovin'(a Little Richard cover),and That's It-I Quit-I'm Movin'On.Unfortunatly,the omission of Another Saturday Night,Ain't That Good News,When A Boy Falls In Love,Good Times and of course the transcending A Change Is Gonna Come, shows like other Cooke hits that a two disc set or a box set is the only way to truly represent this man's body of work.As long as you have the man's beautiful voice on any digitally encoded piece of aluminum,any Sam Cooke is essential.

4-0 out of 5 stars Cooke's Hit's Packages with only the main course.
There are only two Sam Cooke compilations which I would say are comprehensive.First is the 3-record set The One And Only Sam Cooke,a mail order album by Candlelight Music(with a blue RCA label) from 1974.The second was The Man And His Music his first CD-era compilation which included the full-lenghth version of A Change Is Gonna Come.Unfortunatly these two are out of print(if any one can give me information on how to get a copy of The One And Only...please Email me).This new hits collection is an essential because the tracks are remastered,bringing out the clarity in the instrumentation(especially the strings and french horn on Cupid)and also the inclusion, for the first time in the digital era,Frankie & Johnny,Send Me Some Lovin'(a Little Richard cover),and That's It-I Quit-I'm Movin'On.Unfortunatly,the omission of Another Saturday Night,Ain't That Good News,When A Boy Falls In Love,Good Times and of course the transcending A Change Is Gonna Come, shows like other Cooke hits that a two disc set or a box set is the only way to truly represent this man's body of work.As long as you have the man's beautiful voice on any digitally encoded piece of aluminum,any Sam Cooke is essential.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mellow, Melancholy, and Magnificent--That's Sam Cooke
There was something about Sam Cooke's music that made it both joyous and wistful simultaneously. Just listen to "Cupid" or "Wonderful World" or even the infectious "Having A Party," and you readily detect a melancholia in the chord progressions, melodies, and vocals. His songs were not complex, but then complex does not always equate with greatness. There is also a vast difference between "simple" and "simple-minded." Unlike the grossly overrated Elvis Presley, for example, the majority of whose songs were just plain simple-minded both musically and lyrically, Cooke wrote and sang simple but beautiful melodies with very nice lyrics. It is a shame that Cooke died so young. By most accounts, Cooke was not a man who was self-indulgent or self-destructive. All the more reason why his murder was so shocking. One apparent indiscretion resulted not only in his death but also in the tarnishing of his otherwise pristine character. But Cooke shouldn't be remembered for the allegedly imprudent behavior he exhibited during the final hours of his life. Rather, he should be remembered for his life and artistic contributions in totality. He had a nice voice and good musical taste. He appealed to all ages and races. In fact, whenever I think of Sam Cooke I often think of Bobby Darin as well: both very original, appealing, sophisticated, creative talents whose stars were extinguished long before their time.

5-0 out of 5 stars sam cooke
fast service and a great product.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everything most fans will need
I'm not really sure how to grade this album.

I like Sam Cooke's music, but I'm not THAT big a fan, so for me this is really more of a four-star album. But as far as Sam Cooke-collections go, it is superb, spanning all his best and best-known "secular" songs (the gospel material isn't here). And considering that this is some of the best, most influential soul music ever recorded, I suppose "Greatest Hits" deserves a five star rating (although these studio recordings don't have the nerve of the live renditions on Cooke's magnificent "Live At The Harlem Square Club" album).

As I said, everything the casual fan needs is here. Soft, tender ballads...almost too sweet at times, but Cooke was a black man trying to make it in a world dominated by often-prejudiced white people, and sweaty R&B was not yet quite acceptable among white listeners.
And even though they may leave holes in your teeth, it's hard not to enjoy catchy, soulful little pop songs like "Win Your Love For Me", "Only Sixteen", "Love You Most Of All", "Sugar Dumpling" and "Cupid". And Cooke does rock for real on the classic R&B-workouts "Twistin' The Night Away" and "Having A Party".

Besides, you listen to "Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha" and tell me that's not about sex.

Everything on this greatest hits-package is good, most is great, and a few songs are even superb, such as Cooke's bluesy "Bring It On Home To Me" and the lovely little pop gem "Cupid".

Get it. You'll recognize many more songs than you think. ... Read more

18. The Very Best of the Drifters
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Asin: B0000032ZQ
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3596
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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A by-the-numbers, chronological collection that hits all the commercial highlights of the Drifters' Golden Era (1959-64)--after the frequently dazzling early records with Clyde McPhatter, but featuring the consummate vocal stylings of Ben E. King, Rudy Lewis, Johnny Moore, and more on 16 memorable hits. Among the pinnacles: "There Goes My Baby," the record whose unsettling, soaring strings launched the soul era; the romantic perfection of "Save the Last Dance for Me," "This Magic Moment," and the contagiously catchy, Latin-bouncing "Sweets for My Sweet;" and the eternally evocative cityscapes of "Up on the Roof," "Under the Boardwalk," and the stark, gritty "On Broadway." Sleepers include the heartrending Bacharach ballad "Please Stay," "I Count the Tears" (ripped off later on the Grass Roots hit "Let's Live for Today"), and "When My Little Girl Is Smiling," on which strings foreshadow the folk-rock movement. An ideal starter kit on these seminal uptown soul pioneers; those seeking further revelations (and there are plenty of them) are referred to Rockin' & Driftin': The Drifters Box.--Ken Barnes ... Read more

Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the best Drifters 'greatest hits' package available.....
Even if the group have been around for 40+ years, The Drifters have had more members than I think even they care to remember! The ones appearing on this CD are mostly the originals, and that's a shame really. Why? During the 60s, the group was popular in the U.S (the tracks on this CD prove that). However, they were even more popular in the U.K during the 70s where they released many fine songs which *unfortunately* don't appear on this CD. Still, the songs present are a testament to their longevity and each one is a classic in their own right.

From "There Goes My Baby", "Dance With Me" and "On Broadway", the hits keep on coming with "Some Kind Of Wonderful", "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" and "I'll Take You Home". There's also four *massive* hits here too: "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Up On The Roof", "Under The Boardwalk" and my particular favourite, "Saturday Night At The Movies". A very impressive line-up, yes, but when you consider the great songs that are missing, you begin to question the title of this CD - "The Very Best Of The Drifters".

No "Kissin' In The Back Row Of The Movies"?. No "You're More Than A Number (In My Little Red Book)"? No "There Goes My First Love"? And where's "Sweet Caroline", "Every Night" and their fantastic version of the Lovin' Spoonful's, "Summer In The City"? These were all *genuine* hits for the group in the 70s, yet have been ignored by this questionable 'best of' compilation. I'd recommend anyone to purchase a Drifters CD, but on this showing, it's really best if you shop around. "The Very Best Of The Drifters" could really have been a whole lot better.


5-0 out of 5 stars Magical.
Question: How can you go wrong with a 16 track collection of the Drifters' biggest & best hits on one CD released by the finest reissue label in the business? Answer: You just can't.

Since Rhino (the label in question) rarely get it wrong and some of the aforementioned 16 songs count timeless classics such as "Save the Last Dance For Me", "Up on the Roof", "On Broadway" and "Under the Boardwalk" this, quite simply put, is a CD no-one should be without.

Unquestionably the finest, affordable Drifters collection out there, you can also trust Rhino (No, I don't work for them) to deliver flawlessly in the sound reproduction and packaging departments, respectively.

As if all that wasn't enough, here are a few more reasons why everyone should own this CD: "There Goes My Baby", "This Magic Moment", "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Sweets For My Sweet", "Please Stay", "Saturday Nigt At the Movies", Goffin/King, Pomus/Scuman, Mann/Weil, Leiber/Stoller, Burt Bacharach and Ben E. King. Magic! 'Nuff said.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great souls!
Cosa sarebbe stato il soul senza le magiche voci dei Drifters? Come sarebbe stata della storia dei gruppi vocali senza l'immortale "Under the Boardwalk"? Difficile dirlo, ma la centralità dei Drifters nello sviluppo del soul e dunque del pop è indubbia. Atlantic pubblica un documento vasto (29 tracce!) e prezioso, che con capolavori come "Kissing in the back rows of the movies", "Save the last dance for me", "There goes my first love" e "Sweets for my sweet" ci aiuta a rispondere ad una domanda ancora irrisolta: che mondo sarebbe senza i Drifters?
Arthur Cravan

5-0 out of 5 stars I LOVE THE DRIFTERS
You can listen to every song on this album over and over and still love it. When you hear the songs you'll wanna dance and sing along.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good track selection, but way too much mono
This is a pretty good Drifters primer containing all 16 of their Top 40 entries from the '59-'64 period that marked their heyday, presented here in chronological order. Sound quality is uniformly good throughout, in fact quite exceptional considering the age of this material. My one complaint is that everything is in mono. Why? Many of these songs are available in stereo on other CD's. For a more expansive selection of classics (and a lot more stereo) I recommend picking up the 2-disc set "All-Time Greatest Hits & More: 1959-1965" instead. ... Read more

19. At the Close of a Century
list price: $59.98
our price: $53.99
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Asin: B00003002I
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2695
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
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At the Close of a Century may seem a rather portentous title for a box set, even one showcasing the work of such a formidable writer-performer as Stevie Wonder. Consider, though, that these discs appear a few months before Wonder's 50th birthday and that he's already spent 36 years making records; he has more right than most to get a little highfalutin when invoking temporal milestones. Despite various retrospectives over the years, Close is the first to cover the arc of Wonder's entire career. By the end of the first disc we've heard his early Motown hits and watched him develop into the masterful artist who'd go on to stack up landmark album after landmark album in the '70s. (Aretha Franklin's Wonder-penned hit "Until You Come Back to Me" is here in a rare version by the composer.) The string of LPs from Talking Book (1972) to Hotter Than July (1980) provides gem after gem on the two middle CDs--with all of 1973's Innervisions save one cut represented--while post-"Master Blaster" winners such as "That Girl" and "Overjoyed" are the meat of the final disc. Add a smart booklet of essays, photos, and a discography, and this handsome package starts to look like a sharp addition to the collections of even hard-core Stevie buffs. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (96)

5-0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Boxed Sets EVER!
Too often, record labels spend an inordinate amount of time planning how a boxed set LOOKS, but not what makes it up. Witness the many sets loaded with lame-o live cuts of songs you love, rare B-sides few people outside hardcore fans remember or demos made when the artist was still in diapers. In the case of Stevie Wonder, there had never been a single or double disc CD set that accurately covered the breadth of the man's career. And make no mistake, Wonder was that rarest of performers: his appeal crossing generational lines (from the sixties to the nineties), musical lines (name me one seventies rock fan who doesn't rock out to "Superstition") and commercial/experimental lines (his seventies albums employed synthesizers in innovative ways). His songs retain their magic, charm, boldness and genuine soul easily, effortlessly and with true-born genius. Likewise, Motown's usual short-changings (inferior sound remastering, single vs. album cuts, short-shrift booklets) are set aside here to paint a vivid portrait of a seminal modern music figure. Taken in this context, it's easy (and logical) to list Wonder alongside the 20th century's finest singer-songwriters: Bob Dylan, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Lennon-McCartney, Noel Coward. From the Little Stevie Wonder years ("Fingertips") to the seminal pre-rap seventies funk-rock workouts ("Living For The City") to his unquestionable skills as a balladeer ("I Just Called To Say I Love You"), this 4-disc collection is, simply put, one of the best boxed sets ever produced. Absolutely essential!

4-0 out of 5 stars FRONT LINE pushed to the back of the line once again...
At first glance I was impressed with the wide spectrum of songs included. Maybe Stevie deserves more that just a quartet of discs. (As an example, upon opening up his vast back-log of unreleased material in boxed set form, Springsteen ended up rush-releasing his "TRACKS" album, to collect ommitted trax).

None the less, as I read the reviews from AMAZON customers I could not help but note the number of gross ommisions. Granted, you can't please everyone, but over the course of 4 discs, you'd think you could hit the mark on every major cut.

My Personal Plee was for the extended 12" mix of FRONTLINE that I own in album form, but I would have settled for a single version. With its riveting groove and strong lyrical message, you would have thot its unclusion a no-brainer.

It is a bit unfair to dock the 312 minute marathon a star for one left out song but as I add up the number of complaints, I think there are some missing moments here (DON'T DRIVE DRUNK, ALFIE, and so on).

Maybe a live, rarities and B-sides disc is in the works, but the great, great early to mid-sixties Moptown cuts are so, so wonderful, it's a shame Little Stevie does not think as much about his past (he had Motown pull the 3-LP LOOKING BACK anthology from disctribution).

I wish those would come back once more...

5-0 out of 5 stars WONDERful
This is truly the best Box set and retrospective I have ever bought. This is well worth the money. I love how it starts from his early work and ends at his most recent work. I love every CD. Motown did a fabulous job in collecting Stevie's work and giving it to his fans. I am elated when I put all the disk in my player and listen for hours. I love the booklet, that is included. It is wonderful when you learn more about an artist and this gives you exactly that.
Thank you Motown for such awesome work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Closest Thing To A True Retrospective!
There are other "Greatest Hit" collections for Stevie Wonder but this one is probably the best one! It has nearly everything from the beginning of his career up until the mid-90's! True, it'll miss a song or two but overall, you can't complain! Get it! Worth the money!

5-0 out of 5 stars TOTALLY WODER-FULL
The ultimate collection of Stevie Wonder's work. Every song brings back memories and stays strong for today's market. If you have to own one of Stevie Wonder's CDs, this is the one to get. ... Read more

20. The Ultimate Collection [1998]
list price: $13.98
our price: $13.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000001AOH
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2101
Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
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Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' 25-cut disc is the single mostimpressive one of Motown's Ultimate Collection series (which features 17artists). Combining Smokey's endlessly inventive twists on romance (good andbad) with the Miracles' handful of straight-up party hits, it showcases one ofAmerican pop's most sure-footed and touching acts. The frontman's prowess assinger, writer, and producer lights up each of these single mixes;less-celebrated tracks like "My Girl Has Gone," "(You Can) Depend on Me," and"The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage" stand as tall as the many oldies-radiostaples featured here. (For much more, including "Mirage's" unstoppable flipside, "Come Spy with Me," check out the four-disc 35th Anniversary box set.)Robinson and his collaborators, both in and out of the group, regularly injectedundeniable emotion into their creamy constructions, making for a stack of tracksthat remain as relevant as the contemporary creations of fans Lennon-McCartney and Bob Dylan.--Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars No question about it....still the best collection available
Checked out all of the other available offerings on and found that this is still the best available collection from one of the pioneer groups at Motown. And the price is right too. Although Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were never on Motown's "A" team in terms of chart success, they were nonetheless a reliable money maker for the label for over a decade. Lead singer Smokey Robinson, who wrote all but three of the selections on this disc, has long been regarded as one of America's greatest tunesmiths. From the first big smash "Shop Around" released in 1960 until their the final #1 hit "Tears of A Clown" in 1970, the Miracles were on the charts almost continuously. You'll find nearly all of their hits on this 25 track disc. Among my personal favorites are 1967's "More Love" and "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" from 1969. It is really quite amazing that the Miracles did not achieve even more chart success then they did. Thanks to the masterful pen of Smokey Robinson, the group had a seemingly endless supply of material to work with. Alas, Smokey left the Miracles and went solo in 1972. The Miracles went on to have a couple of more big hits over the next few years. And Smokey enjoyed some chart success on his own as well. In looking over some of the other reviews here on the verdict is virtually unanimous. This is a five star selection!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC MOTOWN
Smokey Robinson is what Bob Dylan described as "the greatest living poet". Whether you agree or disagree, this compilation album easily gives you an understanding of that statement as the vast majority of these tracks remain stunningly unique!Robinsons' vocals are crystal claear throughout and the best of the hits include their first single release, SHOP AROUND, YOU'VE REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME, I SECOND THAT EMOTION and the two very fine classics that are possibly their very best cuts (certainly amongst their most famous), THE TRACKS OF MY TEARS and THE TEARS OF A CLOWN. The classic sound of Motown was defined by groups like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Robinson was one of the most talented songwriters at Motown. He produced most of Diana Ross and the Supremes early recordings as well as major hits for The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes (their 1972 FLOY JOY album). An excellent compilation from one of Motowns best groups!

5-0 out of 5 stars Undeniably "miraculous!"
Certainly, a fitting compilation of the group's best songs! These aren't all in chronological order like some of the other "Ultimate Collections" are. That shouldn't detract from your enjoyment, though. That matters the least. I don't thank Motown missed anything when this was being put together. For someone young, I know Smokey and the Miracles well, and there are some songs I never heard of. Those were remarkable, too. It felt like the disc was never going to end. 25 songs is a perfect line-up. This is certainly one of the best Motown "Ultimate Collections." Second my emotion, for it's worth your while!

5-0 out of 5 stars being related to Smokey's best friend makes this even cooler
Smokey Robinson is best friends with my grandpa, Ronald Welser.
I got to hear this pre-release due to this fact.
It is awesome.
Buy it NOW if you like Smokey.

5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting Motown group
In Britain, Smokey and the Miracles are remembered primarily for two songs, these being Tracks of my tears (later revived by Linda Ronstadt) and Tears of a clown, but they were more successful in their homeland. Among their American hits to be found on this collection are I second that emotion (later revived by the Supremes and Temptations), Shop around (later revived by Captain and Tennille), Mickey's monkey and You've really got a hold on me. All of those hits came in the early sixties, before Motown's success spread internationally.

Smokey was a prolific songwriter, but as the sixties progressed, he gave many of his best songs to other Motown acts, so hits for his own group tended to be smaller and fewer. The last significant American hits they had together were If you can wait, which just missed the American top ten in 1968, and Tears of a clown, which was actually released on an album in 1967 but became a transatlantic number one in 1970. So their biggest hit came at a time when they were a fading attraction. It did not revive their career, which ended as a unit with 1972's We've come too far to end it now.

A separate compilation in the same series is available of Smokey's solo recordings with Motown. Being with you and other solo gems can be found on that compilation. So, this excellent collection of their best songs together includes all the essentials, something that cannot be said of all the compilations in this series. ... Read more

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