WILSON PICKETT The Best Of Wilson Pickett (Friday Music)
As with their Booker T. & The MG’s reissue, Friday Music have chosen to resurrect a vintage, contemporaneous compilation rather than something more comprehensive and career-spanning. The downside is that “The Best Of Wilson Pickett” omit his final two UK Atlantic hits. The upside is that there’s no messing about here; it’s a concentrated ball of R&B fury that burns searingly brightly for its brief running time. Pickett establishes his credentials as the best Stax/Atlantic soul shouter who wasn’t christened Otis, in the process co-writing over half of these dozen songs, including one – “In The Midnight Hour” – destined to become a genre staple.
It’s that song that open the compilation, naturally, and pretty much defines Wilson’s sound in 150 breathtaking seconds. It makes the following track, the doo-wop “I Found A Love”, recorded by Pickett’s former group The Falcons in 1959, sound doubly archaic, as it appears to have been transferred from a particularly crackly vinyl source. Elsewhere Pickett plays the strutting love machine on “634-5789” and the innuendo-saturated sass of “Mustang Sally”, brings a gospel preaching to “It’s Too Late” and barrels into “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” with sufficient enthusiasm to temporarily overcome memories of Solomon Burke’s original. Then there’s the speedy gallop through “Land Of 1000 Dances”, and the smoky-throated “Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won’t Do)”.
This might not be all the Wilson Pickett you could ever need, but it’s close, and “mastered by the original Atlantic Records monophonic tapes” with the assistance of tech supremo Kevin Gray it sounds fab, exceptions mentioned above duly noted.