“Now you’ve got the best of me, come on and get the rest of me” sweltered no-mark soulsters The Real Thing on their wedding-ready hit ‘You To Me Are Everything’. But were they talking about love? No. It was a desperate plea to the record buyers of the world to buy their actual records rather than just the Greatest Hits disc from the ?3.99 bin. The record buyers of the world are stupid, but not that stupid, and they laughed in the Real Thing’s eager faces.

Soul music is a singles medium, saith its admirers. No it isn’t, because you can’t buy old singles in the shops, they need to make room for the Girl Thing postapaks. It’s a Best-Ofs medium and all soul best-ofs are dire. Worse, they’re all dire in exactly the same way. Here’s the Tanya Headon recipe for a generic soul compilation of your very own. Pick your artist and go!

Your soul compilation will include:

One (1) Hit: this is why the compilation will sell, to people who don’t realise yet that they’re sick of its trite sentiments and lip-stretching vocal grandstanding after hearing it week-in week-out at Stables Wine Bar.

One (1) Clone of the Hit: Recorded two weeks later – same people, same melody, same lyrics pretty much, curiously a chart placing on average sixty lower. Nobody except Paul Gambaccini will remember it.

Two (2) to Six (6) Minor Hits: Totally indistinguishable, immediately forgettable, but one of them will be singled out in the snobbish sleevenotes as being the artist’s “true classic”, and another will have fetched ?150 from a talced-up Wigan lunatic at some point in the late 70s.

One (1) Cover Of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”

One (1) Ill-Judged Rock Cover Version: Hendrix or Beatles popular choice. Frightening stuff, though often better than the original. Lyrics generally much improved by repeated addition of the word “whoa”, though previously harmless syllables break the sixty-second barrier.

One (1) Live Version Of Hit: recorded by an audience member. Or Neil Armstrong on the moon, for all the difference it would make to sound quality. Always with bombastic intro proclaiming artist “King of Soul”. War of Soul Succession long overdue.

One (1) Ill-Judged Excursion Into Psychedelia/Disco/Rap (delete according to decade). Ugly stuff. Move swiftly on, nothing to see here.

One (1) Comeback Hit: hit the mid-30s in the mid-80s. Invariably a ghastly ballad, hearing it is like drowning in cod liver oil.

One (1) House Mix Of Hit: Embarrassing to all concerned, except remix king Ben Liebrand who is probably beyond shame (or prosecution, sadly) at this point. Got to number one million when released to coincide with compilation, a grisly capstone to an unneccesary career.