1997 audio CD release
Pulled this one off the shelf the other night after hearing that Gladys Knight had performed in our town earlier in the week. My wife and I had seen Gladys Knight and the Pips perform in the summer of 1989 and that concert remains one of the finest live performances I have ever witnessed.
Originally released back in 1997, "The Ultimate Collection" features just about every one of the groups charted singles from their highly successful six year stint at Motown. While Gladys Knight and the Pips would achieve their biggest chart success during the mid-seventies at Buddah Records, a good many critics would argue that their best work was probably done at Motown. I would tend to agree with that assessment. Gladys Knight and the Pips were formed way back in 1952 after 8 year old Gladys was the weekly winner on the nationally televised "Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour". From that point on there was simply no holding her back. After a couple of highly successful records in the early 1960's Gladys Knight and the Pips arrived at Motown in early 1967. And before that year was out they had a monster hit with the original version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". Other Top Ten hits would follow including "If I Were Your Woman" and "Neither One of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)" from 1973. As is so often the case some of my personal favorites were not necessarily the biggest hits. Perhaps my very favorite recording is the funky "It Should Have Been Me" which barely cracked the Top 40 in the Summer of '68. And switching gears completely, I was totally mesmorized by Gladys' heart wrenching rendition of the great country standard "Help Me Make It Through The Night". I had forgotten just how great a record that one really was. Add to these other familiar hits like "The End of Our Road" and "I Don't Want To Do Wrong" and you've got yourself a pretty darn good collection.
If you are in the market for the all the great Motown tunes then this single disc collection is still the best option around. I have been waiting for years for a collection that spans the entire forty year career of this legendary group. But for now, pop this one in and enjoy. Highly recommended.
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1997 audio CD release
2009 audio CD release
2007 CD release
2006 CD release