Real Gone's 2015 two-fer combines two albums released in 1964 on Atlantic: Apollo Saturday Night and Saturday Night at the Uptown. Both are live documents from an era that didn't produce many; there's James Brown's seminal 1963 set Live at the Apollo, not coincidentally cut at the same venue as the first of these two LPs. Both records capture a soul revue in full flight, with the Apollo Saturday Night record focusing on Atlantic acts supported by a house band led by King Curtis in 1963. Apart from Ben E. King, who closes out the show with three songs, each act gets two cuts apiece, an equanimity that makes sense considering how Otis Redding, Doris Troy, Rufus Thomas, and the Falcons were on the rise as the Coasters were starting to work their way down the charts. Curtis keeps things soulful, a quality that certainly helps when things get slow (as they do more often than you'd expect, with Redding and King both showcased with ballads) and helps goose the Coasters through some of their B-level material; it also lends a bit of nimble swing to Troy's material. The record cut at Philadelphia's Uptown isn't as funky as the Apollo set but the bright, crowd-pleasing rhythms of this revue may be an even better indication of what an average night at a soul concert sounded like. Opening with a cheerful, hit-heavy set from the Drifters, this soon cycles through a bunch of acts who aren't so well known, but the sequencing of Patty & the Emblems and the frat-rocking Vibrations next to the ascendant Wilson Pickett helps show the variety of soul in 1963. This also gets more kinetic energy from an audience that can be heard screaming throughout, and they're not a distraction; they're an enhancement to a raw, vibrant party. There aren't many live soul albums from this era so it's easy to cherish this reissue merely on its rarity, but it's also a delight, a rollicking good time.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
|11||Ben E. King||02:27||Amazon|
|12||Ben E. King||03:00||Amazon|
|13||Ben E. King||02:23||Amazon|
|19||Patty & the Emblems||02:51||Amazon|
|25||Patti Labelle & the Bluebelles||04:40||Amazon|