The Nashville-based Dial label didn't only record soul in the 1960s and 1970s, but that's what it's most known for, particularly the soul records by Joe Tex. This is a two-CD, 51-song survey of their soul output from the early '60s through the mid-'70s. While it reveals a depth to its roster considerably beyond Tex, it also demonstrates that Tex was by far the most memorable of its performers. There are ten songs by Tex himself on this anthology, which might be a little redundant as collectors apt to pick this up will almost certainly already have Tex hits like "Hold What You've Got," "Skinny Legs and All," and "I Gotcha," all of which are here. As some compensation, the other Tex tracks do include a quartet of far more obscure non-hits from 1962-1964, the standout among them being the jazzy, minor-keyed "I Wanna Be Free." That still leaves about 40 non-Tex songs, which are solid but unspectacular Southern soul following various strands of the time, including country-soul, pseudo-Motown, funky tunes, and sweet soul. Sides by some hitmakers -- Bobby Marchan, King Floyd, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, and Jean Knight -- are included, though, alas, all of them recorded for Dial past their prime. Filling out the ranks are bit players like Annette Snell (who did have modest R&B hits with three of the 1973-1974 singles featured here), Clarence Reid, Paul Kelly, and Little Archie. There's not much among the backbench stuff that demands attention, though oddly one of the better cuts is "Don't Let the Sun Shine on Me," a 1967 midtempo soul-pop ballad by the least recognizable artist on board, the Dialtones. Little Archie's funky "I Am a Carpet" gets some points for the sheer weirdness of its title lyric, and you could say the same thing of Bobby Marchan's 1975 45 "Ain't Nothin' Wrong With Whitey." This being Ace Records, the label includes a handful of ultra-rarities in the form of a couple of mid-'60s Marchan alternate takes (one of them a cover of a Roger Miller song, "Half a Mind"), the mid-'60s Marchan outtake "Just Be Yourself," and the "extended version" of Snell's "Footprints on My Mind."
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2