This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
This is number thirty five in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection.
The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.
Jackie Wilson is not a name that is on most peoples lips, unless they are aficionado’s of the Blues. Yet the chances are you will know one of his best known tracks, “Your love is lifting me higher” as featured in Ghostbusters II.
This album, “Jackie Wilson Sings the Blues” was released in 1960 on the Brunswick label, and is in Mono(BL-1082).
The album showcases a range of styles of the blues, and they are interpreted and sung the most magnificent way.
I do wish it were the original American release, but it isn’t, it is the Australian release. In case you are wondering, the US releases were of a far better quality vinyl and as such, the grooves are deeper and the fidelity better.
They didn’t skimp on this album, providing Wilson with a full chorus backing and an orchestra directed by Dick Jacobs, who was an American musician, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, musical director and an artists and repertoire director for several labels including (Coral, Decca, Brunswick and Springboard). He was of major assistance to Jackie Wilson, Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin and others form their careers in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Marty Hoffman, the Assistant Publicity Director for Coral, Decca and Bunswick, wrote the liner notes for this album and I thought reproducing them will allow you to get a good idea of the esteem the label held Wilson in.
||Please Tell Me Why||1:59|
|A2||Doggin’ Around|| 2:44
|A3||New Girl In Town||2:30|
|A4||Nothin’ But The Blues|| 3:02
|A6||Excuse Me For Lovin’||2:14|
|B1||She Done Me Wrong|| 3:04
|B3||Please Stick Around||1:39|
|B4||Come On And Love Me Baby||1:53|
|B5||Comin’ To Your House||2:30|
|B6||It’s Been A Long Time||2:23|
One of my favourite tracks is “Sazzle Dazzle”. Sung in Jackie’s typical ‘Church Style‘ of singing the track really is a club/pop type number, but it has the effect upon the listener of wanting to jump to their feet and sing out ‘Hallelujah Brother & Sister’!
The following information was obtained from my own knowledge supplemented with info from the Jackie Wilson web site.
Born Jack Leroy Wilson on June 9th, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan he was the only child of Jack and Eliza Wilson from Columbus, Mississippi.
Jackie grew up in Highland Park, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit. He started singing at the age of 6 years old. By the age of 10 he was vocalising on the streets of Detroit in perfect key – both gospel and blues. At 12 Jackie joined the Ever Ready Gospel Singers. That group became the rage of Detroit’s black churches.
In fact this album has some fantastic examples of the influence his early experiences with gospel/blues had on his career. On this album is the track, “Nothin’ But the Blues“, and nothin’ shows that influence better.
Nothin’ But the Blues
In 1951 Jackie made the first R&B recording for Dizzy Gillespie’s Dee Gee Label in Detroit. The label released two singles from Jackie’s session under the name Sonny Wilson.
Then in 1951, Jackie became a member of a street corner group, “The Thrillers” which would go on to form the “Royals”, later to metamorphose into the more famous “Midnighters“.
In December 1951, Johnny Otis came to Detroit scouting talent for King Records. He found and recommended, Little Willie John, The Royals, and, Jackie Wilson.
In another example of a classic music mistake, Otis decided that he only wanted The Royals and missed out on signing Jackie.
In 1953, Jackie’s friend told him that Clyde McPhatter was leaving the Dominoes and they were holding auditions to find a replacement. Jackie attended the auditions.
When Jackie began to sing, band leader Billy Ward was so impressed he hired Jackie immediately, taking him on the road and teaching him the ropes of being a showman. Jackie sang lead and tenor with the Dominoes for more than three years.
Jackie had a number of hits, but the biggest break was yet to come.
Billy Davis, Jackie’s cousin, realised Jackie was destined for bigger things and he took Jackie to an old friend Al Green, the owner of the Flame Show Bar.
Probably the greatest introduction Al Green ever brought to Jackie was a young songwriter by the name of Berry Gordy, who was a famous record executive, record producer and songwriter.
And so a great collaboration was born!
Jackie’s first big R&B / Pop hit came in late 1956 was the brassy “Reet Petite” which was co-written by Berry Gordy.
In 1957 with Green’s encouragement, Jackie signed with the Brunswick Records.
During Jackie’s career he racked up over two dozen top 40 singles and six number one hits
These included such as “To Be Loved”, “Lonely Tear Drops”, “Baby Workout”, “That’s Why I Love You So”, “Doggin’ Around”, “A Woman A Lover A Friend”, “Whispers (Gettin’ Louder)”, Higher and Higher”, just to name a few.
“Doggin’ Around’ is a blues track with a club presentation. Here is a man both pleading and complaining that his baby is “Doggin’ Around“.
“You better stop yeah doggin’ me around
If you stop yeah, I’m going to put you down
Cause, I can’t take it much longer
my heart is getting weak, it’s not getting any stronger
You keep me upset, my heads in a whirl,
but if you wanna be my girl
You better stop yeah doggin’ me around
Cause if you don’t stop yeah, I’m gonna put you down
Now you know you go out nights, to have yourself a ball
Sometimes you don’t make it home at all
I don’t mind you having yourself a real good time,
But now what are you trying to do ,trying to make me loose my mind
You better stop yeah, doggin’ me around
If you don’t stop I’m gonna put you down
Yes put you down, I don’t want to do it,
But I’ll put you down,I love you baby, but
Still I’ll put you down.“
Jackie was becoming immensely popular with his recordings but very much so in particular with his live performances. It was not unusual for he the same adulation from his black fans, as Elvis was from his white fans.
In fact, if you watch some of his live performance videos, you will see moves that James Brown would use later on.
Further more, years later some of his moves were copied and expanded upon by none other than Michael Jackson.
On September 29th, 1975 while playing Dick Clark’s oldies show at the Latin Casino in New Jersey, Jackie suffered an on stage heart attack while singing his signature song “Lonely Tear drops”.
He lapsed into a coma, suffering major brain damage and was hospitalised until his death on January 21st, 1984 at the age of 49.
It is easy to see why he was given the nickname, “Mr Excitement”, excitement oozed through every pore.
In 2013, Jackie Wilson was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.
I was unable to locate copies of this pressing in Australia, but there were four copies of the USA pressing (which has a different cover) and the price range was amazing, between $27.00 and $115.00 inc postage).
There is little doubt that Jackie Wilson lives on through his Family, his Music, and his beloved Fans!
It is a shame that his music is rarely heard these days. many music fans are poorer for not having been exposed to “Mr Excitement“!
Fortunately there are some clips of Jackie performing live, even if the clarity in regard to the image isn’t fantastic, they capture the very essence of why he was labeled “Mr Excitement”.
The Reet Petite track is a montage of clips, but it is a fantastic Wilson song, and it showcases in places his “moves” that would influence Michael Jackson.
Higher and Higher
That Is Why (I Love You So)
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
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