Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Wilbert Harrison was 30 years old when he scored his first hit with the R&B classic "Kansas City" in 1959. It wasn't Harrison's only hit, but he'd have to wait ten years before "Let's Work Together" became a surprise chart success. During those ten years away from the Top 40, Harrison recorded plenty of solid material that was heard by a relatively small audience, and Kansas City: Greatest Hits & Rarities features 25 sides Harrison cut for the Fury label in the '50s and '60s. The original version of "Kansas City" leads off the disc, and while "Let's Work Together" isn't included, you do get "Let's Stick Together," a version of the same tune with different lyrics that Harrison waxed in 1962. While this set doesn't include many tracks that sound like lost classics, there's some great idiosyncratic Southern soul on board (the guitar on "Don't Wreck My Life" alone should make this worthwhile for collectors), and Harrison was more interesting than most journeyman R&B singers of the era. If you ever wondered what Harrison was doing in the years between his two biggest hits, this will catch you up. ~ Mark Deming