The Very Best of Ben E. King

by: Ben E. King

Ben E. King was still known as Ben Nelson when the group he was fronting, the Five Crowns, began touring as the Drifters in 1958 (the original Drifters had more or less collapsed and become unreliable after the departure of lead singer Clyde McPhatter), and he quickly proved his worth in the recording studio when a song he co-wrote and sang, "There Goes My Baby," became a big hit under the Drifters name in 1959. More hits followed, including "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" before Nelson left the Drifters in 1960 to record on his own as Ben E. King, scoring two huge hits the following year with the gorgeously produced "Spanish Harlem" and another song he co-wrote, the immortal "Stand by Me." This fine 16-track collection combines his Drifters hits with his solo successes, including his mid-'70s comeback track, "Supernatural Thing," to form a solid introduction to the full sweep of King's commercial career in all of its incarnations. The '60s sides are presented in the original mono single mixes, a definite plus, giving them a strong, compressed punch even when played over stereo speakers. There are other Ben E. King collections on the market, but they frequently feature re-recorded versions of his hits, making this set from Rhino the one to get. ~ Steve Leggett

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