required listening

CD Review

VARIOUS ARTISTS  -  Cover Me : The Eddie Hinton Songbook

Ace (UK) CDTOP 1535

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD-Breakfast In Bed/OSCAR TONEY JR.-Down In Texas/JACKIE MOORE-Cover Me/BOBBY WOMACK-A Little Bit Salty/CANDI STATON-Sure As Sin/TONY JOE WHITE-300 Pounds Of Hungry/DON VARNER-Masquerade/SWEET INSPIRATIONS-Always David/BRICK WALL-Poor Mary Has Drowned/EDDIE HINTON-It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright/MINK DEVILLE-Help Me Make It (Power Of A Woman’s Love)/CHER-Save The Children/ARETHA FRANKLIN-Every Natural Thing/BOX TOPS-If I Had Let You In/JUDY WHITE-Satisfaction Guaranteed/PERCY SLEDGE-Standing On The Mountain/AMAZING RHYTHM ACES-I Got The Feeling/HOUR GLASS-Home For The Summer/GWEN McCRAE-Lay It On Me/LOU JOHNSON-People In Love/BONNIE BRAMLETT-Where You Came From/MICKEY BUCKINS & the NEW BREED-Seventeen Year Old Girl/AL JOHNSON-Love Waits For No Man/LULU-Where’s Eddie

Eddie Hinton may not have been of the African-American heritage required by some folks to be permitted entry to anything beyond a soul music backroom boy but Hinton, who was born in Jacksonville, Florida and spent the bulk of his life around northern Alabama also spent the bulk of his life steeped in southern soul music, whether as a guitarist, songwriter or - particularly heralded posthumously (thanks to sterling releases via Britain’s Zane Records) - a performer.  ‘Blue-eyed‘ he might have been categorised but there was nothing but the intensity of real soul that exuded from the man, whether as a singer, adding his guitar to classic performances by some of soul music’s biggest names, nor contributing songs for those same ‘stars’, usually as a collaborator with ‘a.n.other’.  To this end, the 24-page liner booklet, annotated by compiler, Tony Rounce, gathers the songs together under the headings of writing partners: ‘Hinton & [Marlin] Greene’, ‘Hinton & [Donnie] Fritts’, ‘Hinton & Others’...  And while this set of two dozen songs majors on Eddie Hinton the songwriter, there is the one foray into his own vocalising.  Somewhat befittingly, not all the performers will appeal to the soul music ultra-purist but it seems no one sings an Eddie Hinton song without due reverence to the man himself, a man about whom one can only conjecture an ultimate direction and achievement had he not chosen a lifestyle which so many over time have found to their costs to be unsustainable.  For a UK release, who can deny the set be topped and tailed by two of Britain’s foremost female talents, Dusty Springfield, whose version of ‘Breakfast In Bed‘ was recorded at Memphis‘ American Studios and Lulu, whose ability to inject soul into a song has been often overlooked due to her getting the wrong material but who delightfully rendered the beautiful, non-biographical,string-laden ‘Where’s Eddie‘ at Muscle Shoals Sound a year later.  (incidentally, Rounce claims ‘Breakfast...‘ to have been recorded first by Baby Washington, whereas the song is usually credited as having been written for Dusty and seemingly released on album in the US before the quoted recording date of Washington’s version.  Of course, I may be wrong.)  From what, for some, might have also come from ‘the wrong side of the soul tracks’, further offerings not to be ignored include the Box Tops‘ ‘If I Had Let You In’ - not a million miles musically from Left Banke’s ‘Walk Away Renee‘ from some two years earlier - or Brick Wall’s ‘Poor Mary Has Drowned’, whose upbeat melody is somewhat removed from the lyrics.  Elsewhere, again what’s not to like, with personal picks going to the Sweet Inspirations‘ ‘Always David‘ - a quality match with Ruby Winters‘ version - Lou Johnson’s downtempo ‘People In Love’, from his oft-overlooked Cotillion album, ‘Sweet Southern Soul’, Don Varner’s contrasting rip-roaring ‘Masquerade‘ and Gwen McCrae’s powerful ‘Lay It On Me’.  And of course, there’s more, much more... Candi Staton’s deep ‘Sure As Sin’, Judy White testifying her way through ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed‘ and Al Johnson’s fine one-off beat-ballad, ‘Love Waits For No Man‘ to name but just three.  The top-notch songwriting quality on this cd is absolutely indisputable and the final example should go to the man himself: Eddie’s own (demo) recording of ‘It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright’, recorded in late 1967, accompanied by the Swampers, is southern soul at its best - and I defy anyone to argue otherwise!

review posted 8/11/18