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on 24 September 2015
Good box set,nice price too. Love the song selections. Ben E King,always such a treat to hear him sing.
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The Five cd's are in replica card sleeves, which are all housed in a card slipcase. There is no booklet and information is sparse. The sound quality is good (but not as good as you might expect from either Rhino or Atlantic) these tracks don't sound as if they have been re-mastered. As for the music it ranges from the ok to the sublime.

CD 1:- 'Spanish Harlem' - This is an 'Ok' album, a mix of covers, filler and classics. The standout tracks are 'Spanish Harlem' and 'Love me, love me'. 6/10.

CD 2:- 'Sings for Soulful Lovers' - An 'Awful' album of ill advised covers with only 'He will break your heart' being better than average. You're best off turning this particular disc into something more useful ie, a coaster. 2/10.

CD 3:- 'Don't Play That Song' - An 'Excellent' album, full of fanstatic songs, such as 'First taste of love', 'Ecstacy', 'On the horizon', 'Stand by me' and many others. Great stuff. 10/10.

CD 4:- 'Seven Letters' - Another 'Excellent' album with many great tracks, like 'Its no good for me', 'In the middle of the night', 'Don't drive me away' and 'Down home'. 9/10.

CD 5:- 'What is Soul?' - An excellent album with many highlights such as 'The record', 'Cry no more', 'Katherine' and my favourite song across all the albums 'She's gone again' (its so beautiful, such heartbreaking lyrics). 9/10.

Overall a very good set of cd's, at a reasonable price. I'd recommend to anyone (except disc 2 - a tragic waste of Mr Kings talent). 4.5 stars would be more accurate.
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on 23 February 2013
Got this for my 14 year old daughter, good variety of songs. Appeals to the young and the old alike.
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on 18 November 2010
This is a most welcome selection of albums from this artist. However recording quality of the tracks is somewhat variable. Strangely although the Spanish Harlem CD album cover has the word 'stereo' on it, the whole album is presented in mono. Other albums are either all in mono or stereo with one being a mixture of the two. One presumes original masters have been lost in some instances but a note of explanation would have been nice.
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on 11 September 2012
Can't believe I found five amazing Ben E. King albums for the price of one, each cd comes in its own sleeve like mini records. I think the best album is his 1967 What Is Soul, just can't get enough of it. Other great albums in this serious come from such artists as Ray Charles, Ottis Redding, Nina Simone and Carole King.
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on 19 January 2012
In the 60's Ben E King seemed to be every singer's favourite singer. He was certainly mine, along with Aretha and Otis. This pack is unbelievable value and one I just have to buy, even though I have the original vinyl versions. I would sum them up as follows:-

SPANISH HARLEM - mainly covers of well known latin songs done in a latin/soul style. Very original at the time (I was only 13!!!) and perfect late night lights-out music. The title track was a minor hit and one of the few original tracks on the album. Stand out track without doubt is the sensuous 'Amor Amor'

DON'T PLAY THAT SONG - this album is a little more patchy than the first but has some real stand-out tracks on it, such as Stand By Me, Ecstasy, Yes, First Taste of Love and the title track

SONGS FOR SOULFUL LOVERS - unlike a previous reviewer, I absolutely love this album which is made up of covers of well known classics such as At last, Dream Lover, Fever etc. He manages to add something of his own to these songs without wrecking them.

SEVEN LETTERS - again some great stuff on this album of original songs. There are couple of weak tracks, including the title track, but these are more than made up for by the utterly brilliant It's All Over, Let The Water Run Down and It's No Good For Me.

WHAT IS SOUL - this album of original songs is a little heavier than the others underpinned with some brilliant drum sounds.There are a couple of really weak offerings namely the slushy Goodnight My Love and a poor Bacharach-David composition The Don't Give Medals. However, The Record, Cry No More, I Swear By Stars Above and She's Gone Again are right on the money. I think if Atlantic had mixed the best of this album with the best of SEVEN LETTERS they would have had a real classic on their hands.

By the way, some 12 years after making WHAT IS SOUL Ben made an album with the Average White Band called BENNY & US. Utterly brilliant.

At the price this really is a no risk purchase.
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on 10 March 2012
Born as Benjamin Earl Nelson he became King because he was lead singer of a doowop group called the Crowns.Geddit?
After 3 singles the group became the Drifters because the original lot had been fired.This was after Clyde McPhatter had gone solo and after Save the last dance for me HE went solo and 2 hit acts were born with King's debut single being the double header First taste of love coupled with the song most associated with him-Spanish Harlem,written by the same team from the groundbreaking There goes my baby-the breakthrough single by the Drifters in 1959 which Phil Spector played on (and managed to grab some of the credit though he only made the demo)
Though the years King cut some fine albums of mainly covers and showed a preference for working with whites.
His current album is called somewhat misleadingly The beginning of It All which is part covers and part self penned songs which shows he was better at covers.
A 30 minute interview is included in which he comes through as a thoroughly normal guy and runs through briefly all its songs imparting the information that Don't play that song was written by his wife-which is no big deal as it sounds like Stand By Me
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