Atlantic Soul Legends / 20CD box set

Atlantic Soul Legends / 20CD box set

Atlantic Soul Legends is a 20CD box set (released last week by Warner Music) that celebrates the integral role that Atlantic Records played in the golden age of soul music.

The set is packed with classics of the era, including Aretha Franklin’s Lady Soul, Otis Redding’s Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul and Booker T. & the M.G.’s’ Green Onions.

Other artists represented include Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge and Ben E. King with Ray Charles’ What’d I Say the oldest of the recordings from 1959. As you might expect, most of the selections are from the 1960s, although four albums from the ’70s complete this compendium of soul, including Sam Dees’ outstanding The Show Must Go On, which is previously unissued on CD.

In terms of packaging, this set comes in the form of a robust lift-off lid box, with a stylish worn-at-the-edges design. The discs themselves are attractive, aping the vinyl records of the period with the different Atlantic Records label designs and colours. Vinyl replica card wallets have, for the most part, impressively sharp artwork reproduction.

Attractive discs replicate original label designs

The 32-page booklet includes album credits for all the releases, and it is emphasised that “the best existing masters” have been used when putting this set together. If that seems vague, then the fact that this box has been produced by Rhino France’s David Dutreuil should be reassuring, since he has been responsible for some excellent sounding anthology releases, including Michael Franks and Chic.

At around £35 or $80 (US) for 20CDs this set is still great value even if you already own half of the recordings included, and of course soul devotees will be surely tempted by the ‘carrot’ of that Sam Dees CD debut.

Albums in the box:

  • 1. RAY CHARLES – What’d I Say (1959)
  • 2. BOOKER T & THE M.G.s – Green Onions (1962)
  • 3. BEN E. KING – Don’t Play That Song! (1962)
  • 4. SOLOMON BURKE – If You Need Me (1963)
  • 5. RUFUS THOMAS – Walking The Dog (1964)
  • 6. THE DRIFTERS – Under The Boardwalk (1964)
  • 7. DON COVAY and THE GOODTIMERS – Mercy! (1964)
  • 8. OTIS REDDING – Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)
  • 9. WILSON PICKETT – In The Midnight Hour (1965)
  • 10. PERCY SLEDGE – When A Man Loves A Woman (1966)
  • 11. SAM & DAVE – Hold On, I’m Coming (1966)
  • 12. BAR-KAYS – Soul Finger (1967)
  • 13. EDDIE FLOYD – Knock On Wood (1967)
  • 14. ARTHUR CONLEY – Sweet Soul Music (1967)
  • 15. WILLIAM BELL – The Soul Of A Bell (1967)
  • 16. ARETHA FRANKLIN – Lady Soul (1968)
  • 17. DONNY HATHAWAY – Everything Is Everything (1970)
  • 18. CLARENCE WHEELER & THE ENFORCERS – Doin’ What We Wanna (1970)
  • 19. HOWARD TATE – Howard Tate (1972)
  • 20. SAM DEES – The Show Must Go On (1975)

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Stevie Dal

@plasket , i got this yesterday and i’ve played 3/4 already. I’m listening to the Donny Hathaway album right now and the sound is outstanding ! You can buy this with confidence, it’s worth it just for the Sam Dees album which was going for 100 dollars (original vinyl) not long ago.


There are some deep and formerly unreleased gems here. It is good to see this kind of release in CD form.


When they say “best existing masters,” keep in mind that there was a fire in Atlantic’s vault in 1978…

[…] With that in mind we are giving away a superb 20CD Atlantic Soul Legends box set. Only 3000 of these are being produced and it includes classic albums from Otis Redding, Ben E. King, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and many more. Full review here. […]

Stevie Dal

Just had a listen to some of the Sam Dees album on YouTUbe ( i only have Come Back Strong on the Take Me To The River compilation) and i’m now buying this box set JUST for Sam’s album. I have a few of the albums aready but there’s about 8 i don’t have so it’ sgonna be some fun listening for the next few months !
Thanks Fred Smith for the nudge…………….

fred smith

I have got this and the first thing that struck me what a great sturdy box the cds are housed in,and yes Paul ,the carrot for me was the Sam Dees cd (and what a fine one it is)though randomly listening to the other cds (the majority i have already)the sound is excellent,and thanks for including the ‘Clarence Wheeler’ cd Rhino because i’ve been tempted to spend big bucks on e-Bay for this little beauty..
There is not a duff album among these 20 ,and for any soul fan they must be the bargain of the year..(that Sam Dees album really is a cracker..sigh..they don’t make ’em like this any more)


All can be heard now on Spotify too – listen while you save up!