Personnel: Delbert McClinton (harmonica); The Dells (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Photographers: Chris Beachley; Billy Vera.
Arrangers: Andrew "Mike" Terry; Tom-Tom; Sonny Sanders; Thom Bell; Anthony King; Riley Hampton.
The definition of "beach music," the name given to rock, soul, and R&B records (mostly pre-1970) that have found seemingly eternal popularity along the Carolina coast, is hard to pin down. Generally, though, it could be said to refer to light, melodic, and romantic soul-pop records of the 1960s, though records of different eras and different styles make inroads into the scene, too. Ultimately what qualifies a beach music record as "beach music" is how popular it is in this region, and 25 Beach Music Classics does a good job of gathering a couple dozen or so of them in one place. Not many of them are going to be hard to find for the general '60s collector, the roster including such smashes as Betty Everett's "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)," Jackie Wilson's "Whispers (Gettin' Louder)," the Capitols' "Cool Jerk," Barbara Lewis' "Hello Stranger," Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby," Brenton Wood's "Gimme Little Sign," Bob Kuban & the In-Men's "The Cheater," the Swingin' Medallions' "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)," Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time," the Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup," and Deon Jackson's "Love Makes the World Go Round." All of these get airplay on oldies stations across the United States, but for balance there are some lesser-anthologized items too, like the Tams' "Untie Me," Jimmy James & the Vagabonds' "Come to Me Softly," the Intrigues' "In a Moment," and the Corsairs' "Smoky Places," as well as a couple slices of '50s vocal R&B with the Dominoes' "Sixty Minute Man" and Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' "Work With Me Annie." The inclusion of a couple post-1980 efforts in the beach music style (the Embers' "I Love Beach Music" and O.C. Smith's "Brenda") was unnecessary and weakens the set very slightly. But overall this is a very solid collection of (for the most part) the lighter, more buoyant side of vintage soul, whether you're a beach music listener or not. ~ Richie Unterberger