Real Gone Music's 2012 collection The Complete Scepter Singles
trumps Ace's excellent 2004 The Scepter Hits and More 1964-73
by serving up all of the A's and B's B.J. Thomas
released during that time span. It's a total of 44 tracks -- 23 singles, with two duplicate flip sides eliminated -- and there are 11 tracks that never popped up on LP, so this is a bonanza for the collector, but The Complete Scepter Singles
is also the best way for casual fans to listen to B.J. Thomas, and not just because it's a handsome retrospective. Hearing the peaks and occasional valleys of B.J. Thomas' prime illustrates what a fine country-pop and soft rock singer he was, and the inclusion of rarities and the odd piece of hazy generic pop winds up adding up to something that's greater than the sum of the parts. These singles function as a snapshot of the AM pop heyday of the late '60s, and it's a very enjoyable set for that very reason.