The Definitive Collection

by: The Righteous Brothers

The intention of the Universal Music Group compilation series called The Definitive Collection is to occupy the price point in between its more expensive two-CD Gold series and its budget-priced 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection series. It is, thus, aimed at the fan who wants a reasonably complete single-disc anthology of a particular artist's hits. In that sense, the Righteous Brothers' edition of the series is a good example. The duo reached Billboard magazine's Hot 100 21 times between 1963 and 1974, and 17 of those chart entries are contained on this album. (The most notable exceptions are the two follow-ups to the novelty comeback hit "Rock and Roll Heaven," "Give It to the People" and "Dream On," which UMG didn't choose to license from EMI.) Also included are a couple of LP tracks and a solo track each by Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. All have been digitally remastered and are in excellent sound. The chronological sequencing tells the Righteous Brothers' story musically, starting with the heavily R&B-influenced early tracks from Moonglow Records, including a version of "Georgia on My Mind" on which Medley sounds just like Ray Charles, and the frantic "Justine," which might as well be by the Isley Brothers. When producer Phil Spector takes the singers to his Philles label, he embeds them in his Wall of Sound for the melodramatic ballad productions that gave them their biggest hits, starting with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." On their own on MGM's Verve Records subsidiary and on the parent label, they effectively re-create that sound together and separately. Coming six years after the end of their heyday, "Rock and Roll Heaven" makes for a cartoonish coda to the hit-making years of 1963-1968, but it was a big hit and merits inclusion for that reason (and no other). ~ William Ruhlmann

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