At 30 tracks, Marginal's The Ultimate Collection of Ruby and the Romantics offers more of the group's output than any other collection available, including their hits "Our Day Will Come," "Hey There Lonely Boy," and "Baby Come Home." Despite the substantial track listing, the album concentrates on the work of the original Ruby & the Romantics lineup, omitting any material by the later incarnations of the group, which included a 1966 version with Ruby Nash Curtis fronting a different group of male vocalists, and a 1968 version that featured two female singers. While this somewhat narrow focus might disappoint completists, fortunately the original lineup did enough worthwhile material to make such an extensive collection enjoyable. On "Daydreaming," "What a Difference a Day Makes," "Heartaches," and several other tracks the group employs the Latin-inspired percussion, shimmering organ, and smooth harmonies that earned them a hit with "Our Day Will Come," but it sounds charming instead of merely repetitive. The group sounds surprisingly earthy on "How Deep Is the Ocean?" especially compared to airy confections like "Two Different Worlds," "Our Everlasting Love," and "When You're Young and in Love." While their version of "I'm Sorry" ends up sounding even squarer than Brenda Lee's original, the dreamy quality the group brings to "Stranger on the Shore" and "Not a Moment Too Soon" recalls their best work. The close harmonies, Spanish guitar, and expressive strings on the lovely, gypsy-tinged "Young Wings Can Fly" and the big, brassy production on "Does He Really Care for Me" make those songs standouts, within the group's overall career as well as this compilation. As lengthy as the album is, The Ultimate Collection of Ruby and the Romantics still manages to miss a few of the group's best tracks for their original label, Kapp -- which, arguably, calls the title "Ultimate Collection" into question even more than the lack of material from their later years. Despite these omissions, this Belgian collection still manages to gather more of Ruby & the Romantics' prime material than the group's other retrospectives, which makes it worth seeking out for anyone looking for a more in-depth retrospective than either The Very Best of Ruby & the Romantics or Greatest Hits can provide.
Share this page