RECOMMENDED COMPILATIONS - Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul - Craig Werner

Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul - Craig Werner (2004)


The Discography includes greatest hits compilations only when they included a substantial amount of new material or when they played a significant part in the artist’s career. Especially since the advent of the CD, there have been dozens of compilations focusing on different aspects of Aretha’s, Stevie’s, and Curtis’s careers. The following compilations do a good job of introducing particular aspects of their music or providing overviews of their careers.

Aretha Franklin

Queen of Soul. A brilliantly executed four-CD compilation covering her great years at Atlantic. The Grammy award-winning liner notes are essential reading.

The Queen in Waiting or Jazz to Soul. Either of these two-CD sets provides a good overview of Aretha’s Columbia years.

Delta Meets Detroit. A well-executed thematic compilation highlighting Aretha as a blues singer.

Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits, 1980-1994. The definitive collection of her work with Arista. A nice complement to the Queen of Soul box set.

Stevie Wonder

At the Close of a Century. A four-CD set emphasizing Stevie’s best-known and most successful music.

Song Review. A two-CD greatest-hits-style set that includes a number of songs from the eighties and nineties (“Redemption Song,” “Ebony and Ivory”) that had not appeared on Stevie’s albums or other compilations.

Stevie Wonder: Early Classics. A fascinating compilation of hits and album cuts from Stevie’s early days at Motown. Available only on import.

Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions

People Get Ready! The Curtis Mayfield Story. A three-CD overview of Curtis’s work from the early days with the Impressions till the time of his accident. The third disk particularly is a gold mine of hard-to-find songs from his later Curtom albums.

Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. A two-CD set from MCA that covers much of the same ground as the first two disks of People Get Ready! However, this set does a better job with the Impressions material, including several excellent songs that are otherwise available only on British or Japanese import CDs.

Curtis Mayfield Gospel. A compilation that emphasizes Curtis’s explicitly gospel material. Includes several cuts that are not available on any other CD.