We’ve already filled you in on Ace’s recent collection from the great Jackie Wilson; today, we turn the spotlight to another classic R&B vocalist, Garnet Mimms!
West Virginia-born, Philadelphia-raised Garnet Mimms is best remembered today for his 1963 hit “Cry Baby,” which reached No. 1 R&B/No. 4 Pop and inspired Janis Joplin’s scorching revival years later. “Cry Baby” was the work of songwriters Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns, both of whom played key roles in the vocalist’s career. In fact, Ragovoy produced every one of the 28 deep-soul tracks on Ace’s The Complete United Artists and Veep Singles, co-producing four with Berns (including “Cry Baby”) while Berns wrote or co-wrote another five songs here.
Though Mimms’ gospel-inflected pipes, inspired by Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke, would have earned him success in any R&B genre, he thrived in the classy, New York-recorded uptown soul sessions helmed by Ragovoy and Berns, frequently with arranger-conductor Garry Sherman. Mimms’ passionate vocals gave just the right edge to the lushly intricate, Latin-tinged productions favored by Ragovoy and Berns. Mimms recorded 14 singles and three albums combined at UA and its subsidiary Veep between 1963 and 1967; this set presents every one of those 45 RPM sides in their original (mostly stereo) mixes, with many appearing for the first time on CD.
Though “Cry Baby” and a handful of Mimms’ subsequent recordings were credited to Garnet Mimms and The Enchanters (a.k.a. Sam Bell, Charles Boyer and Zola Pearnell), most of the early sides here feature the unmistakable sound of the Sweet Inspirations on backing vocals. After a couple of singles with Garnet, Ragovoy would take The Enchanters over to Warner Bros.’ Loma imprint and continue to produce the group there.
Mimms’ graceful yet gritty sound was in place from his arrival at UA, and this collection underscores his place as a muse and interpreter of Ragovoy’s songbook. Ragovoy’s solo composition “Baby Don’t You Weep” plays heavily off the “Cry Baby” sound, as does the torrid Berns/Ragovoy co-write “One Girl.” But Ragovoy took Mimms down other avenues, too, with the singer gliding over the slinky Latin rhythm of “A Quiet Place,” the mid-tempo chug of “Look Away” (recycled by co-writers Berns and Ragovoy for Ben E. King’s “Cry No More” the next year) or the rock-and-roll-guitar twang of “So Close.” “It Was Easier to Hurt Her” has elements of Burt Bacharach and Phil Spector, but mostly this all-too-unheralded soul classic is pure Berns and Ragovoy. “Prove it to Me” is all brassy, uptempo swagger.
Looking for You also features Mimms’ inspired interpretations of Jerry Butler’s “For Your Precious Love” and Bert Berns’ hit for The Jarmels, “A Little Bit of Soap.” Other famous Brill Building-era names pop up here, too, including Pete Anders and Vini Poncia (“One Woman Man”), Doc Pomus (the aforementioned “One Woman Man,” “More Than a Miracle”), Pomus’ usual partner Mort Shuman (“It’s Been Such a Long Way Home,” “My Baby,” “All About Love”) and Chip Taylor (“Welcome Home,” “Thinkin’). Taylor and Ragovoy’s “Thinkin'” is just one particularly immaculate production. Ragovoy and Shuman’s dramatic “My Baby,” like the similarly-titled “Cry Baby,” was also recorded by Janis Joplin and posthumously released on 1971’s Pearl.
Looking for You includes a detailed 16-page booklet with liner notes by compilation producer Tony Rounce. His notes bring the Garnet Mimms story up to date. Garnet is alive and well although, following his born-again conversion in the late seventies, he only sings gospel today. Duncan Cowell has newly remastered this collection.
Garnet Mimms’ Looking for You: The Complete United Artists and Veep Singles is available now from Ace Records at the links below!
- Cry Baby (UA 629, 1963)
- Don’t Change Your Heart (UA 629, 1963)
- Baby Don’t You Weep (UA 658, 1963)
- For Your Precious Love (UA 658, 1963)
- Tell Me Baby (UA 694, 1964)
- Anytime You Want Me (UA 694, 1964)
- A Quiet Place (UA 715, 1964)
- One Girl (UA 715, 1964)
- Look Away (UA 773, 1964)
- One Woman Man (UA 773, 1964)
- A Little Bit of Soap (UA 796, 1964)
- I’ll Make It Up to You (UA 796, 1964)
- It Was Easier to Hurt Her (UA 848, 1965)
- So Close (UA 848, 1965)
- Welcome Home (scheduled for UA 868, 1965)
- Everytime (scheduled for UA 868/released on UA 887, 1965)
- That Goes to Show You (UA 887, 1965)
- Looking for You (UA 951, 1965)
- More Than a Miracle (UA 951, 1965)
- I’ll Take Good Care of You (UA 995, 1966)
- Prove It to Me (UA 995, 1966)
- It’s Been Such a Long Way Home (Veep 1232, 1966)
- Thinkin’ (Veep 1232, 1966)
- My Baby (Veep 1234, 1966)
- Keep On Smilin’ (Veep 1234, 1966)
- All About Love (Veep 1252, 1966)
- The Truth Hurts (Veep 1252, 1966)
- As Long As I Have You (UA LP UAS 6396, 1964)
All tracks stereo except Tracks 22 & 26 are mono.