Beg Scream & Shout: The Big Ol' Box of '60s Soul
Six CDs and 144 songs of classic '60s soul, including selections by every major performer in the idiom (except for Sam Cooke and Sly Stone, who were unavailable for licensing reasons), as well as numerous influential minor performers, one-shot artists, and just plain unknowns. The music is classic, and the packaging is an event in itself, with the discs enclosed in a mock briefcase for carrying 45 singles, and trading cards for each song on the volume that have photos and trivia questions on front, and mini essays on the back. Yet it ultimately occupies a rather perplexing space on the collector's shelf. Anyone who's enough of a soul lover to fork over the dough for this production will no doubt have a good many of the tunes already, particularly the Hall of Fame hits like "Sweet Soul Music," "(I Know) I'm Losing You," "Don't Make Me Over," and "La-La-Means I Love You." There are numerous great rarities here -- Jay Wiggins' magnificent melancholy ballad "Sad Girl," and the rare original versions of "Shake a Tail Feather" (the Five Du-Tones), "Tainted Love" (Gloria Jones), "Mustang Sally" (Sir Mack Rice), and "Piece of My Heart" (Erma Franklin). Yet the tracks used to represent some superstars -- "You've Been in Love Too Long" for Martha & the Vandellas, or "Fly Me to the Moon" for Bobby Womack -- seem almost deliberately idiosyncratic, even though this method also yields underrated off-the-beaten-tracks by Ray Charles ("In the Heat of the Night"), Al Green ("Back Up Train"), and others. It's almost as if some guys stayed up several nights running trying to make the ultimate '60s soul party tape -- one which demonstrated both their impeccable taste and the depth of their record collection -- and got so carried away with the idea that a box set resulted. Like all well-made party tapes, the content is excellent, but the sum is neither a definitive '60s soul box (an impossible task in any case), nor one which offers quite enough lost classics to justify its hefty price tag for those who already have half or more of the tunes.