Sam and Dave, while not regularly being the first name to spring to the lips of members of the general public when asked to name a great soul act, released as many classic soul tunes as anyone during soul’s golden period. From the brilliant “Hold On, I’m Comin’” (the picture-sleeve of which depicted them riding a cartoon tortoise, which elevates them to a whole level of cool of their very own), to the career-defining “Soul Man”, this 1969 compilation remains pretty much definitive and showcases one of the finest soul duos of the 60s at the very peak of their powers.
While the soul aficionado may prefer original studio or live albums as their preferred musical medium, I feel that for soul music in particular, that a well selected compilation suits my personal needs better. It was a combination of the nature of the record industry at the time here in the UK, along with the richness and depth of the Soul and RnB scene from the late 50s through to the early 70s, that dictated that many of the greatest recordings of the era were released as stand alone singles, therefore if if you want the great soul hits of the era, you are inevitably best served by compilations, even at the risk of overlooking the undoubted delights and hidden gems that the studio albums of the era may offer.
There’s almost unbridled musical joy to be found throughout this compilation of Sam and Dave classics, from the blend of vocals, through to the infectious hooks and the superbly tight musicianship provided (usually) by Booker T. & The M.G.’s. While there are greater authorities on the Stax Records output of the 60s, it’s difficult to imagine anyone on their roster topping the songs that make up The Best of Sam & Dave.
If you don’t think you’re a fan of soul music, I would encourage you to give The Best of Sam & Dave compilation a chance, as it contains some of the greatest toe-tappers ever recorded. It remains the ideal starting place for the Sam and Dave novice, and can continue to count itself among the truly great best-of albums that music has to offer.