James and Bobby Purify

When most people think of searing, mid-'60s R&B duos, Sam & Dave usually come to mind. And who am I to argue? I spent the mid-'60s bouncing around a jock strap while my dad played college basketball. Graphic detail aside, greater respect is due a certain Floridian duo, James and Bobby Purify, whose sweet Southern soul genius made R&B history.

Best known for their mesmerizing hit “I’m Your Puppet” (1966) and their version of the Five Du-Tones’ 1963 hit “Shake Your Tail Feather” (later renewed in the original Blues Brothers movie), the pair experienced brief fame by combining the timeless songwriting of Penn-Oldham, catchy Stax-influenced horn accompaniment and their own sweet harmonies for what some now term classic Carolina beach music.

Unrelated by blood, the two singers discovered their vocals melded great together on the cutting floor of legendary Muscle Shoals studio. They were soon charting on Bell Records with their blend of two-tone Southern soul—as producer Papa Don Schroeder took the raw, soulful vocals and wrapped them in slick packaging and marketed it (as he said, “for whites and blacks"). Of the 28 tracks included on this definitive collection, there are five previously un-issued gems, the best being the soulful ballads “Seems Like Old Times,” “My Adorable One” and “She Ain’t Gonna Do Right.”

Overall, this is a great-sounding, long overdue sampler of their work. Check out sundazed.com for a look at other interesting reissues the company offers.