The Best of the S.O.S. Band (1995)

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Best of S.O.S. Band cover art

RECOMMENDGreatest hits albums are a great way to get caught up on the best of what a artist has to offer, even if it covers just a particular period in a discography. Sometimes those releases can be so iconic as in the case of Steely Dan’s Gold or Bob Marley’s Legend, that every music lover seems to have owned a copy at some point in their lives.

For those who loved R&B music in the ’80 and were frustrated by the reluctance of record labels to issue their back catalogs, the S.O.S. Band’s late arriving best of compilation was a must have. Despite CDs being widely available for nearly 15 years, some tracks, especially the early ones had never been issued on CD before.

Although their first hit “Take Your Time…” was a disco smash, they ended up being  known for their slick mid-tempo Quiet Storm jams like “Tell Me if You Still Care”. The Best of the S.O.S. Band is not an all inclusive collection of songs, but it speaks volumes about the production team that made them famous and made everyone forget they were ever associated with disco at one time.

In fact had it not been for Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, there would not have been much of a collection as this album is heavy on their hits from 1983 to 1986. Their influence is heard from their first collaboration “High Hopes” to the last “No Lies”. This period corresponds to the band’s commercial and artistic peak as well as lead vocalist Mary Davis absence after 1986.

Released when their music was still hard to find on CD, The Best of the S.O.S. Band documents the band’s rise from Disco booty shakers to slick Quiet Storm trailblazers. A similar collection released in 1990 is a bit more complete in that it attempts to include more non Jam/Lewis material. It’s that teams contribution that makes these collection worth having anyway. Often for $10 or less The Best of the S.O.S. Band became part of many new CD collections and for good reason. It presented the band at their most sophisticated best, breaking the mold of the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis sound to the point of almost making it their own.

I always though the band’s lead co-vocalist Mary Davis had a great voice, although her songs about holding on to her man at any cost never said much about her confidence. Jason Bryant, the male counter voice was more confident, but sometimes blended with the ‘A’ list guests like Alexander O’Neal.

While the tracks are not listed in chronological order,there is a clear division between the production styles. As a portfolio of early Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis work before Janet Jackson, this collection lets you see the progression of their sound and underlines their important contribution to ’80s R&B. Fortunately for them, The S.O.S. Band was just along for the ride and will take their place amoungst Quiet Storm memories for millions of R&B fans.



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