Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
on 8 June 2008
They weren't related at all, but Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield made a great combination with their contrasting voices. This compilation offers a comprehensive study of their career from 1963 to 1974 including their classic recordings with Phil Spector as producer. While their career may seem quite long, the songs they are remembered for all came from a very short part of that period.
The Righteous Brothers made their earliest recordings for Moonglow. The best of those early efforts occupy the first fifteen tracks of the first CD here. They are particularly interesting in that they showcase the duo's ability to sing both up-tempo songs and ballads. Nevertheless, the soulful ballads seemed to suit them best. Another characteristic is that most of their recordings are almost like solo recordings for one singer or the other. It is rare to find individual tracks on which the singing is shared equally between the two of them. Although the Moonglow recordings didn't yield any huge hits, the Righteous Brothers (whether through their recordings or their live performances) aroused the interest of Phil Spector. As a consequence, they signed to his Philles label. These recordings occupy tracks 16 to 24 of the first CD.
You've lost that loving feeling (with Bill Medley as the main singer) went to number one in both Britain and America. The achievement was particularly creditable in Britain, where Cilla Black's cover version was first to chart and had climbed to number two before the original version overtook it. It is clearly very popular as it made the UK top ten when re-issued in 1969 - and that wasn't the end of its UK chart success.
Unchained melody (with Bobby Hatfield as the main singer) was a cover of a movie theme that had been a hit for several artists in the fifties. It was somewhat less successful for the Righteous Brothers in the sixties. Even without a rival cover, it stalled at 14 in the UK charts - however, its use in Ghost (a 1990 movie) prompted its re-issue as a UK single and this time it made number one. As a follow-up, You've lost that loving feeling was re-issued for the second time, this time making the top three,
Of the other Phil Spector tracks, Just once in my life missed the UK charts but made the American top ten, while Ebb tide was a sizeable American hit but only a minor UK hit.
The professional relationship between the Righteous Brothers and Phil Spector was difficult so they didn't stay with Phil Spector very long. As things turned out, they provided Phil with his last major success in America, although he had one more big hit in Britain when River deep mountain high in 1966, performed by Ike and Tina Turner, made the UK top three. After the split, the Righteous Brothers switched to Verve; these recordings occupy the first twenty tracks of the second CD. Note that the following track is listed as being on the MGM label, but MGM owned Verve at the time.
With Verve, the Righteous Brothers started well, scoring an American number one hit (it also made the UK top twenty) with You're my soul and inspiration, but soon ran out of hits. During their time with Verve, the Righteous Brothers disbanded but continued to both record solo tracks and these are also included. Since many of the songs they officially recorded together were dominated by one or other singer, the solo recordings sit comfortably among the duo recordings.
The duo re-united in 1974, signed for the Haven label and scored an American top three hit with Rock and roll heaven. That hit and two other Haven tracks, both of which became American top forty hits, complete this compilation.
Some people are disappointed by the omission of various tracks, especially Bill Medley's music from the eighties including his big hit with Jennifer Warnes (I've had the time of my life) although that hit is available easily elsewhere and there would in any case be licensing issues. One track that I'd like to have been included is Subsitute. It was released on an album on the Haven label in 1975 (Sons of Mrs Righteous) but, as far as I know, wasn't a hit and probably wasn't released as a single. However, Gloria Gaynor later covered the song and it started to climb the American charts before the single was flipped over to reveal I will survive. Subsequently, the South African all-female group Clout covered the hit and had a huge hit with it in Britain and some other European countries, but it was only a minor hit for them in America. So the version by the Righhteous Brothers is not essential but it would have been nice to see it included.
Overall, this is a brilliant, as well as comprehensive, collection of Righteous Brothers music from 1963 to 1974. There are other collections that only contain the big hits if that's all you want, but if you're interested in more than just the obvious tracks, this remains the best available Righteous Brothers compilation.