June 27, 2006
Edel Records
Pop/Rock, Early R&B, Vocal Pop, Soul, Traditional Pop, Standards

Album Review

Jackie Wilson was one of the great natural talents of soul and R&B during the 1950s and '60s, but you wouldn't always know that from listening to his records. Wilson and his A&R people had rather curious ideas about what to do with his powerhouse voice, and he cut lots of material -- standards, show tunes, adult pop hits -- which cast him in the mold of a middle-of-the-road supper club singer rather than the soulful dynamo who exploded on nightclub stages. The History of Jackie Wilson, Vol. 2: Jackie Sets the Standards collects 40 songs from Wilson's Brunswick Records catalog that reflect this side of his musical personality, and while there's never any question that Wilson has a tremendous voice with a broad range and plenty of expressive power, he doesn't seem especially well-suited to this material most of the time. Did anyone really think it was a good idea for Wilson to record "You'll Never Walk Alone," "People" or (gulp) "My Yiddishe Momma"? Wilson never gives less than 100 percent on these selections, but sometimes this just makes things worse; he struggles to find a soulful undercurrent in "Ode to Billie Joe," "My Way," and "Sonny Boy" to the point of forcing one in even if it doesn't fit, and the emotional overstatement only makes these sides sound all the more absurd. The highly polished and hackneyed arrangements don't do Wilson any favors, and ultimately, it's remarkable that a handful of songs work in spite of it all, especially "Danny Boy," "Night," "St. James Infirmary," and "For Once in My Life," numbers where Wilson finds a way to reach the songs on his own terms. There's an old cliché about a singer being so good that he could sing the telephone directory, and there are moments where that sounds preferable to what's on Jackie Sets the Standards; given Wilson's incredible talent, this is usually at least listenable, but it also demonstrates just how misguided Wilson's recording career could be.
Mark Deming, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. My Way
  2. Don't Go to Strangers
  3. This Guy's in Love with You
  4. Eleanor Rigby
  5. Ode to Bille Joe
  6. This Bitter Earth
  7. That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Round Heaven All Day)
  8. For Once in My Life
  9. Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)
  10. People
  11. Be My Love [#]
  12. (It Will Have to Do) Until the Real Thing Comes Along
  13. Over the Rainbow
  14. You'll Never Walk Alone
  15. You Don't Know Me
  16. Goergia on My Mind
  17. What Kind of Fool Am I?
  18. Stardust
  19. Danny Boy
  20. Rags to Riches
  21. I'll Be Home for Christmas
  22. Yes Indeed
  23. St. James' Infirmary
  24. Pianissimo
  25. I Apologise
  26. Body and Soul
  27. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
  28. Mood Indigo
  29. Try a Little Tenderness
  30. Tenderly
  31. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)
  32. Cry
  33. By the Light of the Silvery Moon
  34. My Yiddishe Momme
  35. Alone at Last
  36. Night
  37. Danny Boy
  38. Sonny Boy
  39. Blue Moon
  40. We'll Be Together Again