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Outstanding fifties R+B,
This review is from: Wild Wild Young Men (Audio CD)
Ruth Brown was the most successful singer on the Atlantic label in its formative years. Indeed, it was said at the time that Atlantic was the house that Ruth built. By the early sixties, Atlantic had become a huge corporation and Ruth was largely ignored; it was a sad way to end her career there. Ruth never again came close to emulating her fifties successes but this collection, focusing exclusively on that period, shows what Ruth sounded like at her brilliant best.
During the fifties, Ruth had many hits on the various Billboard R+B charts (jockey, jukebox and best sellers), although her music was conspicuously absent from the main pop charts for most of the time. Ruth made those pop charts with just three of her R+B hits. One of them, Lucky lips, became a huge British hit for Cliff Richard. Of Ruth's own hits included here, Lucky lips is likely to be the song that is most familiar to the majority of people around the world outside America, even if only because of Cliff's cover. (Hey, don't knock it, because it's one of the routes via which people discover Ruth's own music.) Despite its relative success in the American pop charts, Lucky lips peaked at six in the R+B charts, lower than several hits that didn't make the pop charts. Ruth had many top five R+B hits including five (Teardrops from my eyes, 5 10 15 hours, Mama he treats your daughter mean, Oh what a dream, Mambo baby) that went all the way to number one, as well as three (I'll wait for you, Daddy Daddy, Wild wild young men) that peaked at three and a further three (So long, As long as I'm moving, It's love baby) that peaked at four. One of the other R+B top ten hits (Love has joined us together) is a duet with Clyde McPhatter. All of those songs and plenty of others are included here.
Ruth charted 24 singles on the R+B charts but although there are 24 tracks here, some hits have been omitted to make way for other recordings. The most surprising omission, This little girl's gone rocking, was one of Ruth's three pop hits as well as making the R+B top ten. Two other R+B top ten hits (I don't know, Don't deceive me) are also missing. Of the non-hits that replaced these tracks here, it's particularly interesting to hear Ruth's version of Sentimental journey. I'm extremely familiar with Doris Day's two recordings of the song (the original with Les Brown and a solo re-recording from the sixties) but Ruth makes it sound like a rock'n'roll song - much livelier but less romantic. A great song is still a great song, however interpreted, and here is further proof.
Ruth eventually died in 2006, but she left a great legacy behind with these and other recordings - and that's not counting the influence she had on other singers as well as her importance in the growth of the Atlantic label. If you must have the hits that aren't here, you may prefer a different compilation to this one, although other compilations may be missing other hits that can be found here, not to mention Ruth's amazing version of Sentimental journey. Nevertheless, if you are interested in fifties R+B, you should have at least some of Ruth's music in your collection and this is a good choice.