While American Motown has seemingly been re-releasing its classic albums through an eye-dropper, the label's European division has been busy doing audiophile re-releases of stuff that never even charted, including these two long-players. From the opening bars of "Cleo's Mood," the rhythm section is in-your-face on this two-LP-on-one-CD release, and Jr. Walker's sax puts you practically in the bell on the title-track. It's a bracing experience, and one worth the premium price on this, the group's second recorded long-player -- there's not a weak track on this classic dance album, which got a lot better with this release. Tracks 13 through 24 were recorded much earlier, products of instrumental sessions run mostly by ex-Moon Glow Harvey Fuqua at a time when the group was still on his label and finding its strengths in the studio -- these are a more primitive brand of R&B, less impressive as commercial recordings but nothing to avoid, either. The opener, "Good Rockin'," is typical, with the middle featuring a call-and-response interchange between Walker's sax and Vic Thomas' organ; "Hewbie Steps Out" breaks up the pace, slowing it down, and offers Willie Woods' guitar center stage in the second half, but is otherwise similarly unpretentious. Some of the numbers, such as "Everybody Get Together," the dramatic "Mark Anthony Speaks" (a good showcase for Walker and Thomas), the frenzied, catchy, "Us" (which owes a bit to "What'd I Say"), and the mellow, laid-back "Moonlight in Vermont" (produced by Mickey Stevenson), show off the group's potential, and the latter number is a harbinger of Motown's future as well. There are two bonus tracks, the 1962 vintage "Willie's Blues," an unanthologized single that's almost worth the price of admission for the soaring interplay of Walker's sax with the organ and piano, and the rousing, pounding 1965 track "Break It Up," a killer showcase for Walker's singing and sax that's otherwise only available on the From the Vaults vinyl album.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder