In terms of crafting the perfect pop song the (one-time) husband and wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King has few peers. Working through the 60s in the musical hothouse that was New York’s Brill Building they created pop classic after pop classic and when their work was recorded by soul artists the results were often sensational… witness Aretha’s ‘Natural Woman’ or the Shirelles ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’- two very different types of soul music but both key markers in the history of the genre.
On this new Ace compilation of Goffin/King songs (the label’s third retrospective on the duo) there’s plenty that almost rivals those two soul benchmarks. For starters, there’s Freddie Scott’s ‘Hey Girl’ – the perfect uptown ballad, rivalled here by the lesser known ‘The Right To Cry’ from New Jersey’s Lenny Welch. Other soul gems on the generous 26 tracker include Big Dee Irwin’s ‘Soul Waltzin” (a departure from his usual novelty numbers), the Chiffons’ ‘One Fine Day’ (a song Carole King still includes in her live shows) and the Drifters ‘At The Club’ (the rare mono single mix). This being an Ace compilation you can also be sure that there are plenty of more unusual selections. So, for instance, instead of the Shirelles’ version of the aforementioned ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ we’re treated to a jauntier 1966 version from Bunny Sigler. Then there’s Dee Dee Sharp’s version of ‘The Locomotion’ while “Locomotion Lady”, Little Eva treats us to her version of the Drifters’ ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’. Good too to see an inclusion from Stax’s Mad Lads (‘You’re My Inspiration’) and the original version of I’m Into Something Good’ from Earl-Jean.
Naturally there are lots and lots of great 60s pop too. The notable inclusions number the Byrds’ version of ‘Going Back’, The Everly Brothers’ stab at ‘Chains’ and Dion’s take on ‘Take Good Care Of My Baby’ – Bobby Vee’s biggest hit. Vee, by the way, is represented by his cover of ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’ – with which, of course, Carole King enjoyed her own big hit.
As ever the sleeve notes take you through everything you need to know, helping to make this yet another essential Ace collection.