Recognized as the signature voice of R&B vocal group The Drifters during their peak, Ben E. King’s legacy precedes him. The lead voice on the group’s biggest and most memorable songs such as 1959’s “There Goes My Baby” as well as “This Magic Moment,” along with 1960’s “Save The Last Dance For Me,” what is really impressive is the trajectory of King’s career outside The Drifters. Unfortunately not given the respect he deserved at the time from The Drifters’ management, King opted to go solo, and as a result, forged a new path.
Releasing his first solo album Spanish Harlem in 1961, it featured the hit single by the same name which peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. From here he released Ben E. King Sings for Soulful Lovers in early 1962, but it would be later that same year he would find his biggest success. Releasing the album Don’t Play That Song! on August 20, 1962 through Atlantic Records, the album was a mix of great arrangements, classic R&B vibes, all matched with King’s unmistakable voice.
Twelve songs in total, much of the material within Don’t Play That Song! ” is truly magical, and this includes “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied),” “Ecstasy” and “Here Comes the Night.” Then there is also the highly underrated “On the Horizon” which still deserves attention decades later. However, what really makes this album stand out in the eyes of history is the fact that it features the hit song “Stand by Me.”
“Stand by Me,” written by King along with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, is truthfully one of the greatest songs ever written or recorded. With King’s performance still the most definitive, it has also been recorded by many others including John Lennon. The song would even become the title of the memorable 1986 film Stand by Me; which also featured the track as the soundtrack’s lead. Very bold moments in Ben E. King’s lengthy career, now in 2023 Atlantic Records honor Don’t Play That Song! with a very special vinyl release.
Re-released roughly 6 months after Don’t Play That Song! celebrated its 60th anniversary, on February 24, 2023 the new pressing was unveiled as part of Atlantic Records 75th anniversary collection. Celebrating some of the label’s most classic material from their archives, they offer Ben E. King’s Don’t Play That Song! as a beautiful single crystal-clear LP. The LP, of extremely high quality, is dressed in the album’s original artwork as the sleeve and is sonically presented in mono. An aspect that offers you the music the way it was initially recorded, overall, the pressing offers something that is crisp and highly authentic.
In all, this pressing does the late Ben E. King (who passed away at 76 years old back in 2015) and his music justice. And even while he has been gone for nearly a decade now, King’s entire catalog lives on in the hearts and souls of everyone who listens to his music. In fact, his music is regularly being re-released, and this includes Ben E. King’s Greatest Hits limited pressing to colored vinyl in 2022. With all of this his music is preserved for generations to come, and thankfully Atlantic Records are doing their part as well. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this new vinyl pressing of Don’t Play That Song! 5 out of 5 stars.