ARTIST: Ben E. King
TITLE: The Ultimate Collection
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Top 20: I Count the Tears (The Drifters) (#17 US, #28 UK), This Magic Moment (The Drifters) (#16 US, #4 US R&B), Save the Last Dance for Me (The Drifters) (#1 US, #1 US R&B, #2 UK), Spanish Harlem (#10 US #15 US R&B), Stand by Me (#4 US, #1 US R&B, #27 UK), Amor (#18 US, #10 UK, #38 UK), Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) (#11 US, #2 US R&B), Supernatural Thing (#5 US, #1 US R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Some nice covers of standards
LINEUP: Ben E. King, Atlantic session players. Three cuts with the Drifters.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: All you probably need anthology by the old school soul singer that had a short burst of stardom, a long career, and then a hit in 1975.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: His work with the Drifters as well as his first two solo hits would definitely be enough to remember Ben E. King as a great of early R&B, but this collection of 20 of his songs (including three by the Drifters) shows the versatility of King and his vocals.
He is a very smooth vocalist. Most of his work is reminiscent of his vocal style on “Spanish Harlem”. “Stand by Me” stands out, as it were, as he’s a bit gruffer there. He sings the standards very well. Of course, “Supernatural Thing” is just an oddity, a 70’s funk number plopped in here.
That’s the main issue with the collection – it’s sequenced weird and the 70’s hit is right between two standards. That’s a bit jarring.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Due to a contract dispute, King didn’t sing live or on TV very much at all with the Drifters, and only sang lead on 13 songs – many of them their biggest hits.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B+: A soul singer whose body of work needs further examination in a larger anthology, though this is good for casual fans. Sequencing is weird, and thus it’s knocked down a notch.