Although initially touted as the triumphant return of the Drifters, 1965's I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing ended up as a bittersweet farewell to the combo's final incarnation during the 1960s. The personnel included Johnny Moore (lead vocals), Charles Thomas (tenor and lead vocals), Eugene Pearson (baritone vocals), John Terry (bass vocals), and Billy Davis aka Abdul Samad (guitar). Following the tragic death of Rudy Lewis in June of 1964 -- the day before they were to record the classic "Under the Boardwalk" -- Moore and Thomas divided up the lead vocal responsibilities. The material was certainly top-shelf, with contributions from legendary Brill Building denizens Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich ("I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing"); Carole King and Gerry Goffin ("At the Club"); Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman ("Spanish Lace"); Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann ("Come on Over to My Place"); a young Kenny Gamble, who teams up with Jimmy Bishop ("Chains of Love"); and Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young ("I've Got Sand in My Shoes"). Incidentally, it was the latter pairing who penned the international hit "Under the Boardwalk." Legendary producer/songwriter Bert Berns also gets in on the act, contributing one of the project's highlights, the heartfelt ballad "I Don't Want to Go on Without You." Perhaps owing to the phenomenal acclaim of "Under the Boardwalk," Berns sticks to the somewhat prescribed light pop arrangements that are -- more often than not -- augmented with a equally ersatz string section. The results, while at once musically undemanding, were perfect fare for Moore's Sam Cooke-inspired leads and are most evident on "Answer the Phone" and the slightly watered-down reply to Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away," titled "Come on Over to My Place." Otherwise, there are a few standouts that depart from the formula, including the solid backbeat of "Follow Me" and the Memphis-style horn section that supports "Far from the Maddening Crowd." In 2007 Collectors' Choice Music licensed I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing and finally brought the platter back into print.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer