Founded in Gary, Indiana in 1953 by James C. Bracken and wife Vivian Carter, Vee-Jay quickly emerged as the most successful black-owned label in the U.S. -- home to classic singles including the Spaniels' "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite," Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl" and Dee Clark's "Raindrops" -- by the following decade the company rivaled any major label for creative consistency and commercial success, culminating in 1964 with a licensing deal that yielded the sale of 2.6 million Beatles records. By 1966, however, Vee-Jay was bankrupt, due largely to an ill-conceived contract with superstars the Four Seasons and subsequent legal snafus. While most Vee-Jay retrospectives (most notably 1993's definitive 75-track overview The Vee-Jay Story: Celebrating 40 Years of Classic Hits) have focused exclusively on the label's myriad chart hits, its commercial misfires and forgotten B-sides have consistently eluded exhumation; the first volume in the Taste of Soul series corrects this oversight, going far beyond the familiar classics to delve into the dustiest corners of the Vee-Jay vaults. It's a pleasure to discover such elegant, regal music from the golden era of R&B -- highlights include the "5" Royales' "They Don't Know," Joe Simon's "My Adorable One," Jerry Butler's "Good Times" and Ivory Joe Hunter's "Someone Is Stealing My Love."
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny