"Wilson Pickett's Greatest Hits," a compilation album, is unusual among its brethren compilation albums, in that the man really did have lots of greatest hits to compile: not everyone does. But the hits, as backed by the great Muscle Shoals rhythm section Atlantic had put together in the late 1960's, early 1970's, come rolling out here. "Hey Jude," despite all that screaming, better than the Beatles' original for some of us; "In the Midnight Hour;" the immortal, internationally loved "Mustang Sally," "Land of a Thousand Dances," "Funky Broadway," and "Midnight Mover." The man could sing. And, with the backing of the Alabama-based studio band, he can certainly serve as an exemplar of Southern soul music.
As a young man, Pickett demonstrated energy to burn in the creation of his memorable works, and those aggressive horns are with him every inch of the way. I did see him live a few years ago, outdoors one summer lunchtime in Brooklyn, and the man had aged: he was wearing his pants up very high. He was delighted to introduce his daughter, he said she was recently graduated from college, and he leaned on her in more ways than one. It was hot out there in the noontime sun. He could not, of course, reproduce the sound you'll find on this album, but he sure still had the soul for it.