From their roots as purveyors of multi-disc classical music compendiums in 1966, Time-Life Music (TLM) evolved into a premier compilation producer for music of all genres just after the dawn of the compact disc and provided the blueprint on how to put out a quality music series over several years and 25-50 volumes. Oftentimes, they would re-issue an older set under a new name and a slightly shuffled tracklisting. Oddly, one of the series titles they have used repeatedly is Body + Soul which first appeared in 1998 and has reappeared periodically though 2015. Like most of TLM's initial CD offerings, Body + Soul was introduced as a subscription, try before you buy service where you got one double-disc album every other month and if I recall correctly, the double discs were $20 plus shipping and handling. The music was R&B and soul slow jams from the Sixties up through the Nineties.
Later on, TLM's marketing strategy involved both 30 minute infomercials and shorter commercials pitching their multi-volume sets. All of their CD collections are now "buy 'em all at once" rather than subscription based and are consequently smaller, with the average collection currently available numbering between 8-12 discs with some larger, merged collections available. By merged, I mean that they offer a current set along with an otherwise unavailable set from the recent past. Prices work out to be just below a dollar a song in most cases. The current Body + Soul set featured on today's post first appeared in 2013 and is made up of five double disc albums for a total of 144 songs and retails for $135 (94 cents/song) though cheaper prices for the set can be found with a little shopping around.
The first disc of Turn Off The Lights, the first volume in the Body + Soul Collection, tells you all you need to know with the first track: Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing". The entire 15 track disc is well-stocked with Sony label artists including Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass and Earth, Wind & Fire, My favorite triplet on the album is a fifteen minute segment made up of tracks 10-12. Track 14 is the one I always skip.
Disc Two of Turn Off The Lights keeps the mood going although there are a couple of disruptive uptempo songs which I love but they are somewhat out of place given the mood set by the rest of the songs. I like to play track 15 followed by track 8. The one I skip on this one is track 13.
On track one, disc one of the second volume of The Body + Soul Collection, once again Mr. Marvin Gaye sets the tone by stating his endgame in no uncertain terms. The album's title comes from track 11 but for my money the first seven tracks are what makes the disc worthwhile and I usually eject it after they play.
Love You Down is made up of artists in Universal Music's extensive catalog. My favorite triplet on disc two occurs from tracks 6-8 but I usually don't skip a track on this disc.
My man Otis kicks off disc one of Always with his show stopper "I've Been Loving You Too Long", which always seemed more like a closing number to me. The rest of the disc is packed with some very solid slow jams, songs that should be in any loverman or lovergirl's collection.
Always disc two skews more towards the early Seventies and late Sixties than previous discs and that's alright as the songs are on point. Stone cold love jams from Grover Washington, Anita Baker, Luther Ingram and Percy Sledge are among the highlights.
The first disc of Rock Me Tonight, the fourth volume in The Body + Soul Collection, keeps the vibe going with a pair of slow jams each from Gladys Knight & the Pips as well the Delfonics. There are a couple of uptempo love songs but don't let them throw your groove off. Eyes on the prize. If time is of the essence, skip directly to tracks 10 and 11.
Disc two sees Al Green and Freddie Jackson each giving the double dose. I skip track 8 mostly because it is the one track on the disc I am least familiar with. Love the Tavares cover of Hall & Oates. My favorite song on the disc is Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You".
The fifth and final volume is Duets. It is my own personal shame that I knew less than half the songs on each disc of Duets. Consequently. this is my least favorite album in the series. My favorite song on the first disc is The Supremes epic team up with the Temptations on "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me".
The second disc features a pair of classic Marvin Gaye duets: "It Takes Two" with Kim Weston and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Tami Terrell. Though both are a little too fast for a slow jams disc, both songs are sweet love songs and the latter one is my favorite on the disc.
cover art gallery of previous Body + Soul discs:
It should be noted that as late as 2009, Body + Soul albums usually contained two discs, each with a dozen tracks though there are several stand alone single disc titles as well as triple disc collections sold at Costco and Sam's Club.
In 2005, Direct Holding Holland BV, owners of the international branch of Time-Life Music, issued more than 20 double disc, 30 track albums under the series title Body & Soul - with an ampersand instead of a plus sign. Over half of the album titles corresponded with their US counterparts though the tracklistings were different in most cases.