Jesse Belvin

Golden Classics

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AllMusic Review by

This 75-minute, 26-song collection of Jesse Belvin's last round of recordings on RCA, from 1958 until the very end of 1959, is even better coming from Collectables Records than it would have been if RCA had put it out, because Collectables also licensed "Girl of My Dreams" and "Goodnight My Love" from his Modern Records catalog to round it out. This compilation presents the final flowering of Belvin's tragically short career as a Nat King Cole-style pop singer. His voice is astonishingly rich and expressive with this repertory, turning light classics like "Secret Love" into the most soulful pop music you ever heard, and stretching out on numbers like "Ol' Man River" as well. Other highlights include "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" (done straight, not like the Coasters' version) and "Witchcraft," where he starts moving closer to Frank Sinatra than Nat King Cole (and it works, too), and the R&B hit "Funny," which made the R&B top 30 in early 1959. What is so extraordinary is that numbers like "Guess Who," "My Funny Valentine," and "Now You Know," all done complete with way-overblown angelic choruses more suited to Doris Day recordings of the period, are both transformed into superb soul ballads in Belvin's hands. All of that, plus the complete contents of the Mr. Easy album, make this one of the finest soul releases of its period, a vital Jesse Belvin document, and maybe the best release in the whole Collectables catalog to date. The only minor drawback is that the notes say a lot about Belvin's career, but almost nothing about his time at RCA or the sessions that yielded these songs, not even producer and arranger credits; plus, a tighter focus on the music at hand would have been nice.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:28
2 2:19
3 2:22
4 2:24
5 2:47
6 2:56
7 2:23
8 3:00
9
2:27
10
2:19
11 3:28
12 3:04
13 3:27
14 2:35
15 3:21
16 2:38
17 4:30
18 2:32
19 3:33
20 2:26
21 3:20
22 3:15
23 2:35
24 3:21
25 3:01
26 3:06
blue highlight denotes track pick