“An essential set in terms of both quality and quantity, with no shortage of amazing performances.”
That’s how music and cultural writer Will Friedwald describes Soundies: The Ultimate Collection in today’s Wall Street Journal.
“The most radical aspects of the package,” Friedwald adds, “are its emphasis on Black performers and its thematic organization largely along social, racial, political and gender lines.”
In addition to appearances by future celebs like Nat King Cole, Doris Day, and “a pianist at a point so early in his career that he is billed as Walter Liberace,” Friedwald notes that “every kind of music is accompanied by dancing; the set is easily worth the asking price for that footage alone.”
In the 1980s, Friedwald says, it was common to describe Soundies as the forerunner of MTV music videos. But, he concludes, “we now know that they were much more than that—an invaluable musical and visual record of who we are as a people and a culture.”