The Sue Records Story: The Sound of Soul

This four-CD, 100-song set is the best representative body of work ever assembled (or ever likely to be assembled) of the R&B and soul releases from Henry "Juggy Murray" Jones' Sue Records. The range of sounds runs the gamut from ex-Drifter Bobby Hendricks' first hit for the company ("Itchy Twitchy Feeling") in 1959, through the string of hits by Ike & Tina Turner, to the company's last hits some seven years later. Not only is every chart single that the label ever had represented, but so are club hits from the mid-'60s and solo sides by uniquely New York-associated figures. The contents of the box are almost ideal, along with their arrangement -- in contrast some other box sets, this one follows strict release order, which is a great way to follow the history of the label (though not ideal for anyone, apart from owners of multi-disc players, who simply wants to hear the label's best-known tracks in one sitting). Producer Alan Warner admits that some of the tracks included are not the original single takes, but, rather, outtakes that were found in the tape vaults, and which were used in place of missing masters on various singles. Optimum sound was as much a consideration as providing the authentic rendition, and the audio quality here is excellent -- given the rarity of a lot of original singles, the compromise (forced by the presence of missing material) is a wise one. The one drawback will be for jazz fans, who will find Jimmy McGriff and Bill Doggett represented in a limited manner, but not any of the other jazz artists who cut music for Sue. Other than this caveat, the collection is not only an essential look at the history of one of the most vital New York-based R&B and soul labels of the 1960s, but also a close-up look at part of the history and development of New York soul, an area frequently overlooked. Of course, all of that's really just intellectual jackassing around; the real reason to buy this box is that there's not an uncool track among the 100 songs here. ~ Bruce Eder

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