By the early 1960s, Atlantic Records had emerged as one of the go-to labels in the world of R&B and had a roster of artists that included Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Coasters and Wilson Pickett. Atlantic tapped into the energy of the acclaimed “chitlin’ circuit” in 1963 and 1964 with a pair of live albums recorded at iconic venues — Harlem’s Apollo Theater and The Uptown in Philadelphia.
Great records in their own right, they are essential releases now that the folks at Real Gone have combined “Apollo Saturday Night” and “Saturday Night at The Uptown” into a single 27-track, 79-minute disc. With performances by The Falcons, Otis Redding, Doris Troy, Rufus Thomas, The Coasters, Ben E. King, Jimmy Bishop, The Drifter, Patty & The Emblems, The Vibrations, Pickett, Barbara Lynn, The Carltons and Patti LaBelle & Her Bluebelles, this set is must for anyone who loves the R&B/soul sounds of the era.
There aren’t any clunkers to be found on a platter that soars highest on Thomas’ “Walking the Dog,” “King’s “Stand By Me,” The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” and “On Broadway,” The Vibrations’ “The Watusi” and a star-studded rendition of “What’d I Say.” (Jeffrey Sisk)