Some soul singers run hot, some run cool. Barbara Lewis
ran cool, and thrillingly so. She was classy and sophisticated, even in the early to mid-'60s, a time where smooth pop-soul was the standard. Her voice was as soft as silk, and Atlantic gave her productions to match, resulting in an alluring body of work that still sounds seductive, yet comforting, years after their relief. During the mid-'60s, she hit the R&B charts steadily, crossing over to the pop charts with the number three "Hello Stranger," plus the Top 15 "Baby, I'm Yours," and "Make Me Your Baby." Those three, along with the bulk of her R&B hits, are all on Rhino's excellent compilation, Hello Stranger: The Best of Barbara Lewis
. Since her work was so consistently good, there are inevitably some fan favorites missing, but everything here is excellent, representing her at her very best -- and that means it's among the very best pop-soul of its time (or ever, for that matter).