Part of Blue Note's quality series of artist samplers, The Best of Hank Mobley surveys the great tenor saxophonist's prime stretch from 1955-1965. Originally overshadowed by the likes of Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, and, of course, Coltrane, Mobley nevertheless gained the respect of his peers, thanks to his richly fluid phrasing and smooth, caramel tone – in lieu of trying to impress you, he seduced you slowly from afar. And while one is advised to dive in directly with any one of his Blue Note discs – especially Soul Station, No Room for Squares, and A Slice of the Top – this ten-track overview still works well as a launching pad. Backed by a stellar array of "Blue Note" regulars like Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, and Horace Silver, Mobley ranges effortlessly from early hard bop favorites ("Funk in a Deep Freeze") to mature, solo-rich material from the mid-'60s ("The Turnaround"). In between, there are two stunning originals from his banner year of 1960 ("This I Dig of You," "Take Your Pick") and one of the best of his several bossa nova numbers ("Recado Bossa Nova").
The issue of the best of Bobby Womack's "The Poet" trilogy that was released in the first half of the 1980's on the independent Beverly Glen label. The soul legend had reinvented his entire sound structure, instead opting for a light jazz feel that was quite popular at that time. The second volume of the series featured several duets with Patti Labelle, which helped prompt A&R at MCA to sign her up at the end of her Philly International tenure. The second disc of this set features acoustic versions from the trilogy as well. Best Of The Poets album Featured players on these sessions include George Benson, Nathan East, Womack & Womack, The Crusaders' Wilton Felder, The Waters, Paulinho da Costa and many more.
Released by the U.K.’s Edsel label in 2011, this compilation has a title that is somewhat misleading. The Best of the Arista Years contains Showmen and Chairmen of the Board leader General Johnson's self-titled 1976 album – co-produced with Rick Chertoff – in its entirety. The remainder of the disc consists of the disco version of one of the album’s A-sides, “Don’t Walk Away,” the B-side “Ready Willing and Able,” the 12” version of the 1977 single “Let’s Fool Around,” and the 12” disco version of another 1977 single, “Can’t Nobody Love Me Like You Do.” While none of it quite matches Johnson’s best moments with Chairmen of the Board, it’s all sturdy, disco-laced mid-‘70s soul, comparable to what the likes of Willie Hutch and Johnny Bristol were releasing at the time. Each one of the A-sides impacted the R&B chart, with the Top 25 “All in the Family” the most successful of all. This is likely the first time any of the material has appeared on compact disc.
Blancmange is a perfect band for a compilation: it was only around for three albums, so there's not a lot of material to pick and choose from (meaning that many fan favorites will fall by the wayside), and all three albums are spotty enough that buying Second Helpings: The Best of Blancmange is a quick and neat way to get pretty much all of the high points. (That said, it would have been nice if the atmospheric instrumental "Sad Day" from 1982's Happy Families had made the cut.) The duo's three best singles, the propulsive "Blind Vision" (featuring Neil Arthur's most manic vocals), the boppy and Erasure-like "That's Love, That It Is" (the closest the duo ever got to a U.S. hit), and the hypnotic, Middle Eastern-flavored "Living on the Ceiling" (an '80s weekend radio staple even though it wasn't much of a hit at the time), are all present and accounted for, as are their other singles and a smattering of quality album tracks. A simple "all meat no filler" compilation, Second Helpings: The Best of Blancmange is just about all the Blancmange most people will ever need.