He might not be as well as known as Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, or even other such behind-the-scenes figures as Bert Berns. But Jerry Ragovoy produced and/or arranged and/or wrote many fine soul-pop records -- too many, in fact, to fit into one 24-track anthology. But this disc does have a lot of them, and gives a good idea of the breadth of his multifaceted talents, heavily emphasizing (despite the half-century span indicated by the CD title) his most famous work of the 1960s and early '70s. It's not quite Ragovoy's most celebrated material, as there's also an emphasis on rarities and original versions that will please collectors, including the Olympics' "Good Lovin'" and, more notably, the elusive rare original of "Time Is on My Side" by jazz trombonist Kai Winding, covered (with the addition of many lyrics) by Irma Thomas and then the Rolling Stones. A lot of fine songs are here, often with memorably classy orchestration, including Lorraine Ellison's "Stay with Me," Garnet Mimms' big 1963 hit "Cry Baby," Miriam Makeba's 1967 hit "Pata Pata," and the Majors' early-'60s doo wopper "A Wonderful Dream." Also on board are solid tracks by noted performers that weren't hits, like Dusty Springfield's "What's It Gonna Be," Irma Thomas' "The Hurt's All Gone," and Howard Tate's "You're Lookin' Good." To gain a full appreciation of Ragovoy's achievements, you really need to hear more material by artists he worked with extensively who are only represented by a tune or two or three on this compilation, especially Mimms, Ellison, Tate, and Thomas. This is a pretty good survey, however, bolstered by Ace's usual detailed liner notes, which include many comments supplied specifically for this package by Ragovoy himself. Like some other entries in Ace's series of compilations devoted to producer/arranger/songwriters, it also whets the appetite for further volumes, as many other well-known and rare tracks that Ragovoy had a major hand in certainly deserve to be anthologized.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger