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Pop - Released June 1, 1964 | Rhino Atlantic

Under the Boardwalk appeared very quickly after the Our Biggest Hits compilation, which was then deleted. The two LPs originally had the same cover jackets and one difference to the music inside -- the "Under the Boardwalk" single replaced "Drip Drop" on the Under the Boardwalk LP. With the music on this album, the Drifters began a new era in their history under tragic circumstances, given the sudden and still mysterious death early in 1964 of Rudy Lewis, who had been the group's lead singer since 1960. Lewis was succeeded by Johnny Moore, who had rejoined as lead tenor in 1963 and had previously been Clyde McPhatter's successor in the old Drifters in 1955. This album mixes songs cut when Lewis was still with the group, but on which Moore sang lead, along with some of Lewis' last successes such as "Up on the Roof" and "On Broadway." It's a superb example of pop-oriented soul, with two excellent singers given equally fine material to work with. Much of the music was made under the direction of producer Bert Berns, who was to guide the Drifters to their very last period of major recording success. This album, the last of the Drifters' LPs to resonate with huge hits, is also considered a classic for the very cool cover image on its second version, a multicolored overlay depicting the five-man Drifters lineup led by Johnny Moore, complete with guitarist Billy Davis, who was a key (if understated) component in the group's sound. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

The first LP appearance by the Ben E. King-era Drifters, as was usually the case with this group, took place more than a year after King himself had left the group, replaced by Rudy Lewis whose voice is featured on most of the tracks here. This album is more unified than its predecessor, which is understandable as it appeared in the wake of a succession of hits utilizing the same core group and the same style of production, mixing strings into an R&B sound and creating something new and attractive that crossed over very easily to pop listeners. "When My Little Girl Is Smiling," "Room Full of Tears," and the title track exemplify the sound, but the finest cut here might be "Nobody but Me." A Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman-authored B-side to the title cut, "Nobody but Me" should have been a hit in its own right. Actually, as with prior releases by the group, the album is comprised of single A- and B-sides, including "Please Stay," "Jackpot," and "Mexican Divorce." The album also provides a likely explanation for the non-release of the excellent "She Never Talked to Me That Way": its similarity (especially in the chorus) to another Pomus/Shuman number on this album, "Somebody New Dancing With You," which was cut earlier and probably precluded the release of "She Never Talked to Me That Way" on a single at the time. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 15, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

The first best-of Drifters collection in the group's complicated ten-year existence, this 14-song LP was also a strange compilation, drawing together Clyde McPhatter-era chart singles like "Ruby Baby," Ben E. King-sung classics like "There Goes My Baby" and "This Magic Moment," and Rudy Lewis-era masterpieces such as "Up on the Roof." It also freely mixes in odd but worthy sides like the hard R&B piece "What to Do" (never an actual hit) among the chart-busters. At the time of its release, this compilation provided a decent cross-section of some recent and classic singles by the two versions of the group. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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R&B - Released November 15, 1988 | Rhino

If Rhino's Very Best of the Drifters is a fine R&B snack, then All-Time Greatest Hits & More: 1959-1965 is a three-course gourmet meal with dessert built on the same ingredients. Forget about the higher price and the fact that 40 songs might seem to be more Drifters than most casual listeners would want -- All-Time Greatest Hits & More: 1959-1965 is a towering and magnificent collection of some of the best popular R&B ever done this side of Sam Cooke. And, as with Sam Cooke, the beautiful part of the Drifters' work during this period is that any look beyond and behind their hits reveals a lot more songs that were every bit as good as those hits. There's not even a slightly weak track anywhere on All-Time Greatest Hits & More, which contains the biggest hits Ben E. King, Rudy Lewis, and Johnny Moore sang for the group. "There Goes My Baby," "This Magic Moment," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Sweets for My Sweet," "I Count the Tears," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Up on the Roof," "On Broadway," and "Under the Boardwalk" are all here, mastered in surprisingly good sound for the late '80s. There's a lot more than that, however -- the producers have also included killer B-sides (such as "Let the Music Play") that hadn't been in print since the mid-'60s, and they've dug even deeper to throw in finished tracks that were left in the vaults until the '70s. The notes by Colin Escott are an added bonus, displaying his usual command for historical detail. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 30, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

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Pop - Released December 20, 2006 | Rhino Atlantic

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R&B - Released September 25, 2004 | BMG Music

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Pop - Released April 2, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

The Drifters have one of the most convoluted histories of any major R&B or soul group ever to top the charts -- you can sort of tell that by the fact that the 1960 Drifters' Greatest Hits album, released seven years into their 15-year history with Atlantic Records, contains songs that, with two possible exceptions (and one of those in a version by a completely different artist), would scarcely be recognized by seven-eighths of the people counting them as fans of the group. They did chart records with amazing regularity for 21 years, placing 37 singles on the R&B charts, 25 in the Top Ten, and five that hit the top spot, but in the process, they also traded in two very different sounds in two different major eras, characterized by five distinctive lead singers (one of whom, Johnny Moore, bridged both). So it's not entirely surprising that it's taken 40 years for someone to get together a comprehensive history of the group's hits on Atlantic. Formed in Harlem in 1953 by lead singer Clyde McPhatter (after quitting Billy Ward & the Dominoes), the Drifters roared out of the starting gate with the R&B classic "Money Honey," and over the next four years were among Atlantic Records' most successful groups. With McPhatter as lead, followed by Johnny Moore, they generated a superb array of hit R&B-harmony singles, among them "Such a Night," "Lucille," "Honey Love," "Bip Bam," "White Christmas," "What'cha Gonna Do," "Adorable," and "Ruby Baby" (which was also later a huge pop hit for Dion). The first 12 cuts on disc one of this set cover the group's early history, from 1953 through 1958 -- which has ended up being neglected because of subsequent events -- when their sound was basically a hard yet romantic brand of harmony-based R&B. The group all but collapsed in 1958, between personnel problems and the greed of their manager, George Treadwell, and the Atlantic label decided to make one last-ditch effort to record a new lineup of the Drifters, recruited by Treadwell's signing an existing group of no seeming special merit, the Five Crowns, to fulfill a performing gig, pairing them with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (who were already doing great things with the Coasters). The result of that session, "There Goes My Baby," impressed few people and confused others (including Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler, who felt its mix of soulful vocals and dense strings and percussion sounded like "a radio tuned to two different stations"), but it topped the R&B charts and opened a whole new era for the group and its new lead singer, Ben E. King, as well as his successors Rudy Lewis and -- returning to the fold -- Johnny Moore. From that record forward, the Drifters' sound under Leiber & Stoller and their successors (principally Bert Berns) mixed R&B with a somewhat smoother brand of harmony singing and orchestral-style strings, horns, and percussion accompaniment, much of it flavored by South American rhythms. The result was a slightly exotic soul sound that regularly made the pop charts as well as the R&B listings. "There Goes My Baby," "Dance with Me," "This Magic Moment," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "I Count the Tears," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Please Stay," "Sweets for My Sweet," "Up on the Roof," "On Broadway," "Under the Boardwalk," and "Saturday Night at the Movies" all charted high in both categories, and by 1964 the "new" Drifters had very much eclipsed the work and memory of the earlier incarnation of the group. Indeed, until the end of the 1980s, Atlantic hardly saw fit to acknowledge that earlier version of the Drifters at all, and it's only in the couple of years leading up to this release that the label -- this time working through Rhino Records -- linked the two catalogs in the same anthology for U.S. release (Europe was a different matter, as one version of the group relocated there and continued scoring hits, in a much more pop-oriented mode, into the 1970s). The Drifters were ultimately more a brand than an actual group, with some 35 members passing through the ranks during their Atlantic run -- this was certainly true of their post-Clyde McPhatter era, when Treadwell ran the group and did all the hiring and firing, and even more so from 1959 onward, especially after Ben E. King (who did write songs) left the lineup, and when their studio sound as well as their recorded output was very tightly controlled by their producers. But the quality of the music always remained high, and singles like "Money Honey," "Ruby Baby" "There Goes My Baby," "This Magic Moment," "Sweets for My Sweet," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Up on the Roof," and "Under the Boardwalk" are undisputed classics. All of these are included on this fine two-disc overview from Rhino Records, which moves chronologically through the group's impressive singles catalog. The liner notes by Billy Vera are a plus here, delivering a concise -- sometimes too concise -- history of the Drifters (which has been the subject of an entire book) and adding in some interesting anecdotes from the most telling moments in their history. It's also a little more limited than WEA International's Definitive Drifters, but as a survey of their prime years in the U.S., this is the anthology to get, short of the Rhino triple-CD box, with state-of-the-art mastering and a nice, broad overview that will probably whet one's appetite for more from this group. © Bruce Eder & Steve Leggett /TiVo
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R&B - Released August 13, 2014 | The Greatest Hits

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Pop - Released July 1, 2002 | Rhino Atlantic

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Pop - Released June 25, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Soul - Released November 6, 2015 | Acrobat

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Pop - Released April 26, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

The Drifters' debut album didn't appear until 1956, more than a year after Clyde McPhatter had left the group that he founded. Thus, this LP was actually an oldies release from the date of its first appearance, and even more so when it was repackaged in 1958 (a time when McPhatter's solo career was running as hot as a pistol). With McPhatter's high tenor voice featured as the lead on every song (basso Bill Pinkney occasionally stepped forward as well), this release and its title made perfect commercial sense on either date. For fans of the singer or the group, or anyone who wasn't around to buy the singles assembled here when they first came out, this is an awesome collection. Numbers like "Money Honey" became the basic language of rock & roll as surely as anything ever written by Chuck Berry, and soaring soul ballads like "Warm Your Heart" are good to hear in any era. On hot "jump" numbers like "What'cha Gonna Do?," McPhatter uncannily anticipates the sound upon which Jackie Wilson would build his career in the second half of the '50s. In short, this is an album that just didn't stop rocking. Helping out in the endeavor were saxman Sam "The Man" Taylor and guitarist Jimmy Oliver, who shines with some particularly hard-edged playing on "Warm Your Heart." © Bruce Eder /TiVo

Pop - Released September 11, 2015 | Rhino

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This career-spanning anthology from legendary vocal group the Drifters is buoyed by the addition of a new recording of "Stand by Me," the iconic 1962 solo hit by former Drifter Ben E. King. Beginning with their 1953 formation as the backing group for Clyde McPhatter, the group has had a revolving-door membership and enjoyed a lengthy career with peaks in three different decades. In addition to timeless pop hits like "Under the Boardwalk," "Up on the Roof," and "This Magic Moment," the collection stretches into the '70s to include later-era singles like "Kissin' in the Back Row of the Movies" and "Down on the Beach Tonight," which were chart hits in the U.K. Their catalog has been well-covered over the decades and aside from the nice remasters, the draw here is the new version of "Stand by Me," marking the first time the song has been recorded under the Drifters' name. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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R&B - Released July 15, 2016 | The Store For Music Ltd

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Pop - Released April 26, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

This is a repackaged and re-sequenced version of the similarly titled 1988 Atlantic double CD, containing the 40 songs recorded by the early Drifters in their Clyde McPhatter, David Baughan, and Johnny Moore eras -- and it's as fine a body of rhythm & blues-cum-rock & roll as you'll ever find. The work runs from the ethereal, soulful balladry ("Gone") to bluesy laments ("Don't Dog Me") and distinctive reinterpretations of classic songs ("White Christmas," "The Bells of St. Mary's") to out and out rock & roll ("Money Honey," "Let the Boogie Woogie Roll," "Bip Bam"), with lots of classic moments and songs. Certainly Clyde McPhatter never cut better music than the 20 tracks he did with the Drifters, all laid out on disc one. Their string of hits was unbroken by the arrival of Johnny Moore, so the second disc in this set is as enjoyable as the first. The improvement to this set over the original includes a bigger typeface for the notes, and the altered sequencing, which puts everything in order of recording, not release, thus, presenting the way the group evolved, step by step and song by song. The sound, in addition to showing off the group's extraordinary vocal prowess, also highlights the playing of guitarist Mickey Baker and saxman Sam "The Man" Taylor. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Although initially touted as the triumphant return of the Drifters, 1965's I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing ended up as a bittersweet farewell to the combo's final incarnation during the 1960s. The personnel included Johnny Moore (lead vocals), Charles Thomas (tenor and lead vocals), Eugene Pearson (baritone vocals), John Terry (bass vocals), and Billy Davis aka Abdul Samad (guitar). Following the tragic death of Rudy Lewis in June of 1964 -- the day before they were to record the classic "Under the Boardwalk" -- Moore and Thomas divided up the lead vocal responsibilities. The material was certainly top-shelf, with contributions from legendary Brill Building denizens Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich ("I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing"); Carole King and Gerry Goffin ("At the Club"); Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman ("Spanish Lace"); Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann ("Come on Over to My Place"); a young Kenny Gamble, who teams up with Jimmy Bishop ("Chains of Love"); and Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young ("I've Got Sand in My Shoes"). Incidentally, it was the latter pairing who penned the international hit "Under the Boardwalk." Legendary producer/songwriter Bert Berns also gets in on the act, contributing one of the project's highlights, the heartfelt ballad "I Don't Want to Go on Without You." Perhaps owing to the phenomenal acclaim of "Under the Boardwalk," Berns sticks to the somewhat prescribed light pop arrangements that are -- more often than not -- augmented with a equally ersatz string section. The results, while at once musically undemanding, were perfect fare for Moore's Sam Cooke-inspired leads and are most evident on "Answer the Phone" and the slightly watered-down reply to Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away," titled "Come on Over to My Place." Otherwise, there are a few standouts that depart from the formula, including the solid backbeat of "Follow Me" and the Memphis-style horn section that supports "Far from the Maddening Crowd." In 2007 Collectors' Choice Music licensed I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing and finally brought the platter back into print. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 22, 2020 | RevOla

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