Rhino almost never lets music fans down, and the label's collection of Stax/Volt recording stars Sam & Dave's finest sides is no exception. Smartly compiled, sequenced, and remastered, THE VERY BEST OF SAM & DAVE is just that--16 tracks that represent the best material the legendary R&B duo ever put to tape. Gritty Memphis soul of the first order, THE VERY BEST OF features fat horn lines, instrumental backing by Booker T. & the MG's, and songwriting by Dave Porter and Isaac Hayes. Most importantly, of course, it presents impassioned vocal performances by Sam Moore and Dave Prater, whose smooth crooning, gospel-fied inflections, gravel-voiced shouts, and call-and-response interplay is never less than scintillating.
The compilation offers up driving groovers ("Hold On! I'm a Comin'" and "Wrap It Up"), a live version of the Sam Cooke-penned "Soothe Me," the wrenching ballad "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" (covered in a significantly up-tempo version by Elvis Costello on his album GET HAPPY), and Sam & Dave's immortal smash, "Soul Man." For the casual fan, THE VERY BEST OF offers an excellent compact overview of, not only the group, but of some of the best soul music to emerge from the 1960s. This is a necessary addition to any soul collection.