Bert Berns

The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns

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As Berns was an interesting and important figure in 1960s soul and pop/rock, this is a good idea for a compilation: songs that were produced (with one exception) by Berns and either written or co-written by him. The song selection is good as well, including the hits "Cry Baby" (Garnet Mimms), "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" (Solomon Burke), "Twist and Shout" (the Isley Brothers), and "Piece of My Heart" (the original version, by Erma Franklin), as well as lesser-known goodies like Hoagy Lands' "Baby Come on Home," later recorded by Led Zeppelin. What's the big flaw here, then? It's the quantity, not the quality. A mere ten songs in the CD age? There was plenty more that could have been included, even assuming that licensing issues might have made some tracks off-base. There's no, for instance, "Hang on Sloopy" (the McCoys) or "Here Comes the Night" (Them). Nor are a bunch of interesting lesser-known, Berns-penned tracks by the likes of Mimms, Burke, and the Drifters represented. What's on the disc is good-to-great early-to-mid-'60s music by a writer and producer who was more adept than almost anyone at combining pop with soul. But it just leaves you hungry for more instead of satisfying as much as it should.

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