For a Motown artist who had a Top Ten pop hit, Shorty Long has been surprisingly unrepresented by single-artist compilations. This 26-track CD does much to rectify the situation, combining both of the albums he did for the label (1968's Here Comes the Judge and 1969's The Prime of Shorty Long, both originally on Motown's soul subsidiary) onto one disc, along with a previously unissued stereo mix of "Mobile Lil the Dancing Witch" and a previously unissued stereo alternate version of "Chantilly Lace." His big smash "Here Comes the Judge" is here, of course, as are his other two best-known songs, "Devil with the Blue Dress" (covered for a hit by Mitch Ryder when combined with "Good Golly Miss Molly") and "Function at the Junction." Though his smash "Here Comes the Judge" was a fun novelty based on a slogan popularized by sketches on TV's comedy show Laugh-In, Long was a minor Motown artist, if one who sometimes had a tougher and slightly bluesier sound than most of the acts on the label's roster. These uneven albums were padded by a rather strange assortment of covers ("A Whiter Shade of Pale," "Memories Are Made of This," "Stranded in the Jungle," old Fats Domino hits), instrumental material, and digs into his catalog for previously released 45s, including his original 1964 version of "Devil with the Blue Dress," which is slower and less exciting than Ryder's famous hit cover. Other cuts, however, are fun and funky enough, like "Here Comes Fat Albert." He and co-writer Sylvia Moy also strike an uncommonly serious mood on "I Had a Dream," which had too many unpredictable melodic twists to reach the hit parade, but is intriguing for its non-formulaic structure, solemn operatic quality, and lyrical outlook obviously influenced by the legacy of then-recently assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. This might be a release for Motown fanatics, but for that audience, it's certainly a good one, with annotation just as complete as the track selection.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger