When it comes to classic soul men, the roster at Ace Records is second to none. Two recent releases shed light on two underrated yet titanic talents – Jackie Wilson and Garnet Mimms – in the label’s typically comprehensive fashion. Today, Part One of Two, looks at the latest from Wilson!
Ace has dug deep into the archives of Brunswick Records for an unparalleled look at the sixties’ New York sessions for Mr. Excitement himself, Jackie Wilson! The simply-titled NYC 1961-1966 presents 48 tracks, 25 of which are previously unreleased, recorded in the Big Apple by Wilson primarily with producers Nat Tarnopol and Eddie Singleton.
Discovered by Johnny Otis, Wilson rose to prominence as a member of Billy Ward and His Dominoes (subject of a recent anthology by Real Gone Music). Honing his craft as an electrifying showman and versatile singer with Ward, Wilson struck out on his own in 1957 at Brunswick Records. With up-and-coming songwriter Berry Gordy, Wilson recorded a string of hits that still resonate today including “Reet Petite” and his signature song, “Lonely Teardrops.” Following Gordy’s departure from the Brunswick fold to start a little company called Motown, Wilson diversified, expanding from R&B to pop balladry and beyond (such as an Al Jolson tribute record!). It’s commonly held that Wilson experienced a lull in his career for much of the early 1960s. After 1963’s Top 5 hit “Baby Workout,” he didn’t score another Top 10 record until 1967’s immortal “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” Ace’s new collection rehabilitates and re-examines this period of Jackie Wilson’s all-too-short career.
Most of the single tracks on NYC 1961-1966 are presented in stereo for the first time, with several songs making their first-ever appearance on CD. In addition, six tracks are preceded by never-before-heard studio chatter with Wilson and producers Tarnopol and Eddie Singleton (not to be confused with songwriter Charles Singleton of “Strangers in the Night” fame, represented here by numerous songs). Though the tracks are presented in non-chronological sequence on the discs, each session is broken down individually in the copiously-annotated and generously-illustrated, 24-page booklet.
Though Wilson wasn’t scoring many hits during the period covered on this collection, it wasn’t due to any shortage of talent surrounding the performer. Two duets are included with LaVern Baker (“Jim Dandy”) and four with future Tony Award winning star of Inner City, Linda Hopkins. In addition to the team of Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder, songs are included here by future two-time Oscar winner Al Kasha, Otis Blackwell, Horace Ott, Larry Kusik and teen pop star Paul Evans. (Trivia: Larry Kusik co-wrote a number of songs for Evans with the young Burt Bacharach, including the holiday perennial “The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle.”) Productions from Tarnopol and Eddie Singleton as well as A&R executive Dick Jacobs are joined by soulful sides “directed” by Neil Sedaka’s frequent arranger/collaborator Alan Lorber, Teacho Wiltshire and Motown great Gil Askey. More trivia: Raynoma Gordy, ex-wife of Jackie’s old pal Berry, married Eddie Singleton in 1970. Raynoma arranged a couple tracks here, too. As NYC 1961-1966 isn’t a complete collection, the hit “Baby Workout” is represented by a previously unreleased alternate take; other songs such as “Twistin’ and Shoutin’ (Doin’ the Monkey).” “Big Boss Line” and “Shake! Shake! Shake!” are all presented in never-before-heard alternate versions.
In the period directly following the tracks here, Wilson began recording in Chicago with producer Carl Davis, opening the next chapter of a career that was sadly curtailed when he was felled by a heart attack in 1975. Wilson remained comatose or semi-comatose until his death in 1984 at age 49. Duncan Cowell has remastered this comprehensive anthology, with producer Rob Hughes providing the detailed liner notes.
- I Believe I’ll Love On (Brunswick 55283, 1965)
- Me, My Mother’s Son
- 3 Days, 1 Hour, 30 Minutes (Brunswick 55289, 1965)
- I’ve Gotta Get Back (Country Boy) (Brunswick 55289, 1965)
- All My Lovin’
- Soul Galore (unedited version of Brunswick 55290, 1965/2015)
- Think Twice – Jackie Wilson & LaVern Baker (alternate of Brunswick 55287, 1965/2015)
- Please Don’t Hurt Me (I’ve Never Been in Love Before) – Jackie Wilson & LaVern Baker (Brunswick 55287, 1965)
- No Pity (In the Naked City) (Brunswick 55280, 1965)
- I’m So Lonely (Brunswick 55280, 1965) (*)
- I Can’t Stand Another Hurt (In My Heart)
- Watch Out (Brunswick 55273, 1964)
- She’s All Right (alternate of Brunswick 55273, 1964/2015)
- Soul Time (Brunswick 55277, 1964)
- Silent One (first issued on Rhino LP 70230, 1987)
- Change Me
- Haunted House (Brunswick 55260, 1964)
- I’m Travelin’ On (Brunswick 55260, 1964)
- Dream a.k.a. I Dreamed (What a Dream Last Night)
- Big Boss Line (alternate of Brunswick 55266, 1964/2015)
- Twistin’ & Shoutin’ (Doin’ the Monkey) (alternate of Brunswick LP 754117, 1964/2015)
- Hold Me, Need Me
- Start the Record Over
- The New Breed (Brunswick 55250, 1963)
- Say I Do – Jackie Wilson & Linda Hopkins (Brunswick 55243, 1963)
- Shake a Hand – Jackie Wilson & Linda Hopkins (Brunswick 55243, 1963)
- Don’t Laugh at Me a.k.a. Don’t Make Me Cry
- Love (Is Where You Find It)
- You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
- Call Her Up (alternate of Brunswick 55263, 1964/2015)
- What Good Am I Without You (Brunswick 55236, 1962)
- Shake! Shake! Shake! (alternate of Brunswick 55246, 1963/2015) (*)
- Baby Workout (alternate of Brunswick 55239, 1963/2015) (*)
- I Just Can’t Help It (Brunswick 55229, 1962) (*)
- My Tale of Woe (Brunswick 55229, 1962) (*)
- Baby That’s All (Brunswick 55233, 1962)
- I Hurt So Bad (Somebody Help Me)
- Tears (Don’t Care Who Cry Them)
- Sing (And Tell the Blues So Long)
- I Found Love – Jackie Wilson & Linda Hopkins (Brunswick 55224, 1962)
- There’s Nothing Like Love – Jackie Wilson & Linda Hopkins (Brunswick 55224, 1962)
- The Dancing Man
- You Don’t Know What It Means (Brunswick 55219. 1961)
- Years from Now (Brunswick 55219, 1961)
- The Test of Time
- Lonely Life (Brunswick 55216, 1961)
- I’m Comin’ On Back to You (Brunswick 55216, 1961)
All tracks stereo except (*) mono.
All tracks marked “2015” and all tracks with no annotation above are previously unreleased.