While Johnnie & Joe are remembered as a one-hit wonder for their 1957 doo wop smash "Over the Mountain, Across the Sea," they did have a couple of other singles that charted strongly on the R&B listings ("I'll Be Spinning" and "My Baby's Gone, On, On"), as well as recording quite a few singles for several labels over the next few years. This collection has 30 of their tracks (including all the aforementioned hits), dating mostly from 1957-1963, although a few stray items from the late '60s and early '70s are on board as well. In the doo wop world, this male-female duo did have an unusual, somewhat spooky sound -- Joe Rivers carried the bulk of the vocal duties, with Johnnie Louise Richardson often not so much a harmonizer or co-lead singer as one who wove around wordlessly in the distance, occasionally adding a spoken recitation. That's the formula that made "Over the Mountain, Across the Sea" so memorable. Unfortunately, it's a formula they milked quite a bit, sometimes to the point of blatant rewrites/remakes of "Over the Mountain, Across the Sea," as this anthology makes clear. That makes the disc useful primarily to serious doo wop fans and collectors, although the pair, working both together and on their own, did manage to record some sides (a few of which are found on this CD) in a more updated soul style in the late '60s and early '70s. Ace does its usual fine job with the packaging, with thorough liner notes and a discography.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
feat: Johnnie Richardson