Arthur Alexander was one of the great overlooked figures of 1960s soul music. Alexander possessed a rich, emotive voice that was the perfect instrument for the lovelorn themes of Southern soul, and he was also an estimable songwriter -- the Beatles covered his tune "Anna (Go to Him)," while the Rolling Stones recorded "You Better Move On." However, the themes of disappointment and bad luck that dominated Alexander's lyrics seemed to follow him in real life as well, and he never enjoyed the consistent chart success his fine recordings deserved. The Ultimate Arthur Alexander is a compilation that concentrates on Alexander's early-to-mid-'60s recordings for Dot Records; unfortunately, his superb early-'70s work for Warner Bros. is ignored, as well as his comeback album, 1993's Lonely Just Like Me (which, with the sort of tragic irony that often popped up in Alexander's songs, was released to excellent reviews only a few months before his death). As a result, this album is a bit lacking as a proper retrospective of Alexander's work, but what's here is splendid; beautifully crafted and emotionally compelling, this is Southern soul at its best, with Alexander's songs and performances hitting the bull's-eye each time out. The Ultimate Arthur Alexander doesn't quite live up to its billing, but it is a fine retrospective of his formative work and a treat for anyone who loves deep soul.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming