Ruby & the Romantics have been poorly served by best-of collections, which are too brief and skimpy. This two-CD, 42-song set goes too far in the other direction, and not everything on here is exciting or worthy of multiple listens by any means. Still, too much is better than too little, and this does thoroughly cover the prime era of the original lineup at Kapp from 1963-1967. On the plus side, this convincingly demonstrates that there was more depth and quality than is commonly acknowledged to a group that is often remembered only for one song ("Our Day Will Come") or regarded as a lightweight pop-soul group. There are numerous good blends of girl group Brill Building pop and smooth soul (and, often, light to heavy touches of bossa nova) on disc one in particular. Star tracks include the soaring Van McCoy
composition "When You're Young and in Love," the doo wop-indebted "Moonlight and Music" (penned by the Romantics' Leroy Fann
), the obscure Bacharach/David ballad "I Cry Alone," the booming uptown soul production of "Does He Really Care for Me," the delicate bossa nova of "Our Everlasting Love," and, above all, the delicious "Hey There Lonely Boy," eventually reworked into a number two hit in 1969 by Eddie Holman
as "Hey There Lonely Girl." Unfortunately, much of disc two is stuffed with dull covers of pop standards that filled out their early LPs. If the standards were omitted, this would be a highly credible and varied anthology, staking a fair claim for the band as an underrated outfit in the poppiest segment of early soul. For the record, all but one of these tracks date from their stint with Kapp; oddly, one post-Kapp cut, the 1968 ABC single "No More," is thrown in too.