required listening

CD Review

VARIOUS ARTISTS  -  Soul Voices : 60s Big Ballads

Kent Soul (UK) CDKEND 490

WALTER JACKSON-Forget The Girl; FREDDY BUTLER-They Say I’m Afraid (Of Losing You); ROY HAMILTON-Heartache (Hurry On By); KENNY CARTER-Like A Big Bad Rain; BEN E. KING-(There’s) No Place To Hide; CLYDE McPHATTER-Lonely People Can’t Afford To Cry; HERB JOHNSON-Gloomy Day; CLARENCE PINCKNEY-Just Outside Of Lonely; TONY MASON-Seeing Is Believng; TOMMY HUNT-Don’t Make Me Over; LOU JOHNSON-Reach Out For Me; BROOKS O’DELL-Now You Are Gone; JIMMY BEAUMONT-You Got Too Much Going For You; GARRETT SAUNDERS-A Day Or Two; FREDDIE SCOTT-Where Does Love Go; CHUCK JACKSON-I Can’t Stand To See You Cry; GARNET MIMMS-Anytime You Want Me; GENE BURKS-Can’t Stand Your Fooling Around; BILLY WATKINS-I Want To Be Loved; JAMES CARR-Lover’s Competition; SAMMY SEVENS-You Are A Lucky So And So; AL HIBBLER-Good For A Lifetime; JIMMY RADCLIFFE-Through A Long And Sleepless Night; JUNIOR LEWIS-I Love You So Much

With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic causing something of a hiatus in the availability of suitable review material, what better return could one want than this superb selection of big ballads emoted by some of the finest male soul singers?  With the opening cut (‘Forget The Girl’) kicking off with the voice of the magnificent Walter Jackson, the bar could not be higher and it’s quite amazing that this Clint Ballard-penned opus, produced and arranged by his regular OKeh Records’ team of Ted Cooper and Riley Hampton respectively remained under wraps until 2007.  The tempo ups a tad for track two, Freddy Butler’s Kapp recording of ‘They Say I’m Afraid (Of Losing You)’, returning to the more dramatic for item #3, ‘Heartache (Hurry On By)’ by Roy Hamilton, another of those big-voiced masters, at his best on this kind of material.  Over the two dozen cuts on display, we can welcome a mixture of big names and lesser-known - but no less when it comes to deserving - mortals, Ben E. King and Clyde McPhatter, both former Drifters, sitting back-to-back with ‘(There’s) No Place To Hide’ and ‘Lonely People Can’t Afford To Cry’, Tommy Hunt placing his rendering of ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ atop the backing track to Dionne Warwick’s original, while Lou Johnson delivers version one of ‘Reach Out For Me’ which Dionne would later take to greater heights.  Jimmy Radcliffe’s take on ‘Through A Long And Sleepless Night’ here is a slower and more spartan version to that issued by Musicor at the time - 1963 - and, as such, is actually more intense and emotional, if that were indeed possible.  Elsewhere, whichever cut is hit by the laser, there’s a beauty and it really is impossible to single out any particular item.  So, with apologies to those omitted by name, one-time front man for the Skyliners, Jimmy Beaumont gets something of a Phil Spector-style production from Mike Lewis and Stuart Weiner for his Bang outing from 1966, ‘You Got Too Much Going For You’, Garrett Saunders‘ uptown ballad, ‘A Day Or Two‘ owes more than a little to Chuck Jackson’s ‘Any Day Now’, Sammy Sevens takes a slow strut through ‘You Are A Lucky So And So’, while jazzman, Al Hibbler, renders Teddy Randazzo and Bobby Weinstein’s dramatic ‘ Good For A Lifetime’, produced by Randazzo for Satin in 1966, to absolute perfection.  Finally, Junior Lewis - later to be as well known as C.L. Blast - rounds off the collection with the previously unissued, organ-supported, moody ‘I Love You So Much’, leaving no doubt that this cd is going to be played over and over again, lockdown or no lockdown.

US R&B Chart statistics  (peak positions: BB = ‘Billboard’, CB = ‘Cashbox’)...

Freddie Scott  -  Where Does Love Go  (Colpix 45, 724)  -  CB 30

Lou Johnson  -  Reach Out For Me  (Big Top 45, 3153)  -  CB 15                                                                                                                                           

review posted 20/6/20