required listening

CD Review

TOMMY HUNT  -  The Complete Man

Kent Soul (UK) CDKEND 480 (cd)

I Don’t Want To Lose You; Hold On; I’ll Make You Happy; The Clown; Lonely For You; The Pretty Part Of You; Never Love A Robin; The Work Song; What’s The Matter Baby; One Of These Days; Who You Gonna Thrill Tonight; And I Never Knew; Human; Searchin’ For Love; The Complete Man; Searchin’ For My Baby (Lookin’ Everywhere); I Need A Woman Of My Own; You’re So Fine; I’m With You; The Door Is Open; How Young Is Young; Girls Are Sentimental; Son My Son; Born Free; I Believe

Sub-titled ‘60s NYC Soul Singles’, ‘The Complete Man’ follows the sixties career of former Flamingos’ member, Tommy Hunt - currently a UK resident - through the Scepter, Atlantic, Capitol and Dynamo labels.  As often the case, a bit of a scatter-gun approach has been taken with the track sequencing, whereas a pedant like me would have preferred chronological order but, of course, it’s what (used to be) ‘in the grooves that counts’ and here, in among the already released are four Scepter recordings seeing the light of day for the first time and one which only earlier appeared in 2018.  Taking the latter and the unissued quartet first - alright, hands up, I’m doing an out of sequence approach too! - ‘Lonely For You’ is a Luther Dixon/Van McCoy composition with a rollalong beat but it would be fair to say that it is far from the best song in either writers’ extensive catalogues.  The same collaboration was responsible for ‘What’s The Matter Baby’, not the Timi Yuro hit but an uptempo Latinesque piece with prominent piano work, while McCoy gets a solo credit for ‘Girls Are Sentimental’, an overly romantic ballad that allows Tommy to adopt his crooning style.  The remaining pair of newly-surfaced songs carry unidentified composer data: ‘One Of These Days‘ is an irresistible toe-tapper that would so have suited the Johnny Moore-led Drifters and ‘Who You Gonna Thrill Tonight‘ is a delightful choir and string-supported mid-pacer.  A ‘difference of opinion‘ with Scepter/Wand boss, Florence Greenberg in 1964 - as told to ‘In The Basement‘ for a Tommy Hunt feature in issue #42 - saw Tommy dropping off one single each at Atlantic and Capitol, which represent the first four tracks on this cd.  Both sides of the Atlantic single were penned by Van McCoy, Tommy considering ‘I Don’t Want To Lose You‘ just what he wanted at the time and how much it reminded him of Roy Hamilton.  Why Atlantic did not get behind the superb ballad will remain a mystery.  ‘I’ll Make You Happy’, the Capitol top side, was composed by Al Cleveland and Jimmy Radcliffe and is another strong opus.  It was a reunion with Luther Dixon in 1966 that took him to Musicor where Dixon was about to launch his Dynamo subsidiary, which he did with Hunt’s ‘The Biggest Man’ - not included here but among those Dynamo tracks that are we get Tommy’s version of ‘Never Love A Robin’, a bouncy piece also cut on the label by Barbara & Brenda and Inez & Charlie Foxx, plus Jimmy Radcliffe and Buddy Scott’s ‘The Complete Man‘, a truly soulful number with a spoken mid-way break and a pleading vocal approach while, by certain contrast, this set bows out with two major nods to the supper-club circuit with ‘Born Free‘ and ‘I Believe’.

review posted 20/3/19