Late-period R&B and vintage 1960s soul never really faded into nostalgia in the coastal towns of the Carolinas, and in time the music and the regional bands that continued to play it generated what became known as "beach music" in the region. Beach music isn't a terribly precise term, however, and much like Louisiana's swamp pop style, it ends up being whatever gets played on the local stages and jukeboxes in the region, which isn't any kind of a problem for the local dancers, but is somewhat of a dilemma for folks who like to have their music tightly defined and categorized. This wonderful collection gets to the root of the matter, presenting 25 tracks of vintage soul and R&B from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and not the usual anthologized fare, either, but lesser-heard sides like the Allen Toussaint-produced "It Will Stand" by the Showmen from 1961; Bob & Earl's oddly majestic "Harlem Shuffle" from 1963; and the stomping, declarative "I've Been Hurt" by Bill Deal & the Rhondels from 1969. Whether or not this all adds up to a distinct style called beach music is open for debate, but there is no denying that these are great songs with plenty of swing left in them. Other highlights include "It Won't Be This Way (Always)" by the King Pins from 1963; the gorgeous and angelic-sounding "Ms. Grace" by the Tymes from 1974; James & Bobby Purify's version of Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn's "I'm Your Puppet" from 1966; and Betty Everett's original version of "You're No Good" from 1963, which was a huge hit a decade and a half later for Linda Ronstadt. You can call all this beach music if you want -- that's what it's called in the Carolinas -- or you can call it a great collection of obscure soul gems (although everything here charted, just not into the single digits). Either way, it's a great listen, and it sure won't confuse any dancers on the Carolina coast, or anywhere else for that matter.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett