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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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Soul - Released November 6, 2015 | Acrobat

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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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Ambient/New Age - Released January 1, 1996 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

No, A Christmas Album is not an original Drifters album, nor is it an album by the original Drifters. It, for all intents and purposes, is a 1996 solo album by Rick Sheppard, who joined the band in 1966, after the group's hit-making years were expired. Sheppard kept the group going in various incarnations into the '70s. During the '80s and '90s, he led one of many different variations of the Drifters. There's not even a real group on A Christmas Album -- it's Sheppard, with three other singers who are credited with "backup vocals." It's not really a bad record -- the ten tracks are all credible re-creations of the classic Drifters sound -- but it's not particularly interesting, either. Above all, it feels like a ripoff. Even if Sheppard went in with the best of intentions, the only place he has accurate credits is on the inner sleeve, which means consumers may be tricked into believing that this is a Drifters album like any of the classic '50s and '60s albums. If you want a re-creation of that sound, try A Christmas Album. Otherwise, you've been warned. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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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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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

The second LP by the Drifters was, almost as much as its predecessor Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, a catch-up effort comprised of three years of recordings by a group whose membership was in a constant state of flux. The lead singers were Johnny Moore, Bobby Hendricks, Gerhart Thrasher, or David Baughn, McPhatter's successors from 1955 through 1958. This collection lacks the mystique of the first album, partly because none of these singers approached McPhatter's name recognition, and also because the records themselves simply weren't as good. (This isn't meant to put them down -- it's difficult to imagine a body of 20-plus songs that could match the Drifters' output from 1953-1954.) Additionally, these were all very different vocalists. Johnny Moore was as close as any of them to his predecessor's style and he lacked McPhatter's sheer power, although he had excellent intonation and on occasion sounded remarkably like Jackie Wilson (nowhere more than on "It Was a Tear"). However, his ballads lacked the almost otherworldly quality that imbued McPhatter's work, and his tenure with the group, as represented here, was a far more conventional period without much commercial success. "On Moonlight Bay" is the album's nadir, an abortive attempt to turn the pop standard into a doo wop style number. By contrast, "Adorable," dating from 1955, anticipated Sam Cooke's attempt to meld soul balladry with mainstream pop by a good three years -- indeed, it even calls to mind Cooke's "I Love You for Sentimental Reasons" in its opening and chorus. There are also signs of an attempt to transform the Drifters into an outfit similar to their Atco labelmates the Coasters, doing highly animated novelty songs like "Yodee Yakee." There is one classic rock & roll number here, "Ruby Baby," which didn't sell much at the time but, along with another track off this record, "Drip Drop," became a huge hit for Dion early in the following decade. There's also a gorgeous ballad in "I Know" and a trio of killer R&B dance numbers in "Fools Fall in Love," "Hypnotized," and "I Got to Get Myself a Woman" (the latter featuring Bill Pinkney), but a lot of the rest is good but relatively unexceptional R&B. The LP is worth hearing just for Sam "The Man" Taylor's sax solo on "Drip Drop." As reflected by this album, the Drifters were in a constant state of commercial and artistic turmoil during the years represented by these recordings, which ultimately led to their breakup in 1959. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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Pop - Released January 1, 1964 | Rhino