Thursday, 25 August 2011

"Something Extra Special - The Complete Volt Recordings 1968-1971" by JIMMY HUGHES. A Review Of The 2010 Ace/Kent CD Compilation.


This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


                       http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00LQKMC6I

"…I Like Everything About You…"

As a voracious lover of Sixties and Seventies Motown, Chess and Stax, I’ve probably waded through a veritable warehouse full of CD compilations in my search to find Soul goodies to listen to. And as the years pass - a few names begin to emerge as genuine class acts you didn’t know too much about before your journey started - singers like Barbara Acklin, Luther Ingram, Maxine Brown, James Carr, Doris Duke, Spencer Wiggins and many more. JIMMY HUGHES is one of those singers.

Possessed of a truly great voice, he could rasp like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, but could also caress a melody like Bobby Womack, Tyrone Davis and Brook Benton. Couple this vocal dexterity and expressiveness with superb Stax in-house songwriting (Isaac Hayes, David Porter and Homer Banks) – and you’re on a winner. And that’s where this fantastic CD reissue comes in…

UK released in July 2010 - this is the 3rd volume in a series of three dedicated to the Alabama soul man; Ace Records/Kent CDKEND 341 breaks down as follows (79:11 minutes):

1. I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
2. LET `EM DOWN BABY
3. I'M SO GLAD
4. LAY IT ON THE LINE
5. SWEET THINGS YOU DO
6. CHAINS OF LOVE
7. I'M NOT ASHAMED TO BEG AND PLEAD
8. IT'S ALL UP TO YOU
9. LOCK ME UP
10. WHAT SIDE OF THE DOOR
11. PEEPED AROUND YONDER'S BEND
12. JUST AIN'T AS STRONG AS I USED TO BE (YOU DONE FED ME SUMPIN')
13. DID YOU FORGET
14. NO EASY WAY
15. DON'T YOU KNOW I'M ALL ALONE
16. I WAS CLOSEST AT HAND
17. I WANT YOU SO BAD
18. I WORRY ABOUT YOU
19. IT JUST AIN'T ENOUGH
20. LOOK WHAT I GOT
21. NEVER GROW OLD
22. YOUR LOVE MADE A U TURN
23. TELL HIM TONIGHT
24. TOO OLD TO PLAY
25. LEAVE US ALONE
26. YOU GOT THE POWER
27. YOUR LOVE IS IMPORTANT TO ME

Tracks 1 to 11 are the Stereo album "Something Special" issued May 1969 in the USA on Volt Records VOS-6003 (Volt was a subsidiary label of Stax Records)

Tracks 12 and 13 are "Just Ain’t As Strong As I Used To Be (You Done Fed Me Sumpin')" and "Did You Forget" – the non-album A&B sides of a USA 45 (see below)

Tracks 14 to 27 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED Volt Recordings

For the first time - this CD will allow fans to sequence all 5 of his rare and desirable 'Volt' 45's as follows:

1. I Like Everything About You b/w What Side Of The Door (July 1968, Volt VOA-4002)
2. Sweet Things You Do b/w Let 'Em Down Baby (February 1969, Volt VOA-4008)
3. Chains Of Love b/w I’m Not Ashamed To Beg Or Plead (April 1969, Volt VOA-4017)
4. I’m So Glad b/w Lay It On The Line (May 1969, Volt-VOA 4024)
5. Just Ain't As Strong As I Used To Be (You Done Fed Me Sumpin') b/w Did You Forget (June 1969, Volt VOA-4060)
[Note: 2 above was issued as his 1st 45 in the UK on Stax 117 in April 1969, while 3 was UK issued on Stax 126 in August 1969]

Proceedings open with an absolute killer – "I Like Everything About You" – as lovely as Sixties Soul gets (lyrics above). But you are also floored by the sound quality – it’s GORGEOUS. Remastered by NICK ROBBINS at Sound Mastering in London – I’ve raved about his huge body of work before and this CD is no exception. The audio quality is clear, warm and detailed – and if there is hiss on some tracks, it isn’t compressed out of existence - nor is the treble ratcheted up to 12 to get volume for the sake of volume. It’s a really nice job done.

The 26-page booklet is the usual informative affair from Ace with superb liner notes from Soul lover and expert – TONY ROUNCE.
It gives a history of Hughes' short but frustrating stay at the Stax subsidiary label and pictures all the 45’s (with label bags), some demo versions of the same, publicity photos and a repro of the rear of the rare album sleeve. Rounce’s name has been involved in a huge number of reissues covering major Soul labels like Philadelphia International, Hot Wax, Invictus and RCA Victor.

Highlights include the fabulously funky "Chains Of Love" which was coupled with the aching "I’m Not Ashamed To Beg Or Plead" on its flip – a great double-header issued as a seven on both sides of the pond. I’ve had the "Chains Of Love" A-side on the 1993 9CD Box Set "The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1968-1971 (Volume 2)" for years now, but the sound quality here is much improved. The harmonica-driven slink of "What Side Of The Door" is wicked too and the album ends on the lovely Al Green soundalike - "Did You Forget". The whole record is an embarrassment of riches really…

The huge haul of 14 Previously Unreleased tracks confirms what fans have known for years – like Motown – the vaults of Stax have harboured hidden gems for decades – only now seeing the light of day thanks to dedicated reissue labels like Ace and many others.
The recording dates range from February 1968 to April 1971 and feature songs by famous soul writers like STEVE CROPPER, GEORGE JACKSON, EDDIE FLOYD, DONNA and SANDRA RHODES, AL JACKSON and CHARLES CHALMERS. Highlights include the pleading "Tell Him Tonight" (recorded April 1970 at Sun Studios) and "Don’t You Know I’m All Alone" sounding not unlike an Al Green outtake. Impressive stuff…

To sum up - in his liner notes to this CD (and being a lifetime lover and collector of Soul Music) - Tony Rounce can barely contain his glee at being involved in reissuing everything this great artist did. It’s been a labour of love for him and Ace Records - and on hearing these 27 slices of Southern goodness by Jimmy Hughes - it’s easy to hear why.

A superlative reissue – and wholeheartedly recommended.

PS: the other 2 volumes in this series are "Steal Away – The Early Fame Recordings" (Kent CDKEND 324) and "Why not Tonight? – The Fame Recordings Vol.2" (Kent CDKEND 331)

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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