The Very Best of Jackie Wilson [Ace]

The Very Best of Jackie Wilson [Ace]

by Jackie WilsonJackie Wilson


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Big Joe Turner, Sam Cooke, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band might have demanded that people 'shake' a leg or tail feather, but possibly only Jackie Wilson put his moneymaker where his mouth was. His rocking "Shake! Shake! Shake!" is one of the many treasures on Rhino's three-disc compilation, forever establishing his place as Mr. Excitement. In the pop and soul canon, Wilson's contribution to music has always been controversial because he was more an entertainer than a prolific composer or innovator. The 74-song collection explores the breadth of his musical mastery from the days of early rock-n-roll: from rhythm & blues, country, and classic soul to jazz and good old-fashioned crooning. He may not have invented it, but Wilson's breathtaking use of melisma on his signature hit "Lonely Teardrops" makes him the owner of the device. Song by song, it becomes apparent just how great an influence he was on his contemporaries and the stars who followed. Two tunes, "St. Louis Blues" and the hit "St. Therese of the Roses" exemplify the more distinctive pop direction the Detroit native took Billy Ward & the Dominoes as their post-Clyde McPhatter frontman. Classics such as "Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You'll Ever Want to Meet) and "You Better Know It" show his huge impact on Elvis Presley, Van Morrison, and early Marvin Gaye. Wilson even gives soul super heroes like Solomon Burke a run for top status with gems like "I've Got to Get Back to the Country." Now and forever, he deserves his props. The set is pure energy; it's a shame most who'll enjoy this body of work will never see his legendary live show. Still, perhaps the only reason to listen to the whole collection is to reach the climax on disc three, arriving at one of the greatest songs of all time, "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher." Its power in church, in the streets, and on the dance floor is undeniable.

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