Thursday, 19 May 2016

"A Woman, A Lover, A Friend/Body And Soul" by JACKIE WILSON (1999 Edsel 2LPs on 1CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Sad And Lonely..."

"...Sure I'm crazy in love with you..." - Jackie Wilson croons on "Crazy She Calls Me" - wrapping his amazing voice around lush strings and ever so sweet as mom's apple pie lyrics. And that's what you get here - two albums filled with crooner tunes all wrapped up with orchestration and quality Brunswick Records production values. Those looking for his bopping R&B 'Mr. Excitement' persona should look elsewhere. Worse – no matter how much you may hold him in affection - that first album is dreadfully dated – weighed down with heavy-handed saccharine arrangements. But the second crooner-album "Body And Soul" is a ballads sweetheart - criminally forgotten across the decades. Here are the Blue Moons and the Rivers of Tears...

UK released March 1999 - "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend/Body And Soul" by JACKIE WILSON (subtitled 'Jackie Wilson In New York') on Edsel DIAB 882 (Barcode 740155488222) offers two 60ts LPs onto 1 CD and plays out as follows (66:50 minutes):

1. A Woman, A Lover, A Friend
2. Your One And Only Love
3. You Cried
4. The River
5. When You Add Religion To Love
6. One Kiss
7. Night [Side 2]
8. (You Were Made for) All My Love
9. Am I The Man
10. Behind the Smile Is A Tear
11. We Kissed
12. (So Many) Cute Little Girls
Tracks 1 to 12 are his 5th album "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend" - released November 1960 in the USA on Brunswick BL 54059 (Mono) and BL 754059 (Stereo) - Stereo mix is used.

13. Body And Soul
14. I Don't Know You Anymore
15. I Apologize
16. I Got it Bad (And That Ain't Good)
17. The Greatest Hurt
18. I'll Always Be In Love With You
19. Crazy She Calls Me
20. The Tear Of The Year
21. Blue Moon
22. I'll Be Around
23. There'll Be No Next Time
24. We'll Be Together Again
Tracks 13 to 24 are his 8th album "Body And Soul" - released April 1962 in the USA on Brunswick BL 54105 (Mono) and BL 754105 (Stereo) - Stereo Mix is used

The 12-page booklet has affectionate liner notes from ALAN ROBINSON (including original LP notes) explaining the 'crooner' nature of both albums - DICK JACOBS arranged and conducted on "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend" while BOB MERSEY did the "Body And Soul" album. There are no other mastering notes nor musician credits nor photos - but the Audio is very clean and full.

The first album has some awful slush on it - dramatic strings and a chorus introduce the MOR "Your One And Only Love" and unfortunately that heavy-handed manner continues for almost every song. Whether you love Jackie Wilson or not - its hard to take schlock like "When You Add Religion To Love" where he sounds like Elvis singing MOR for the sake of filling up the grooves. The hits "Night" and "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend" are lovely and "One Kiss" shows some of that old dancing R&B magic but again it’s cluttering up with those incessant backing singers.

Far better is the "Body And Soul" LP where Mersey wisely strips back the singers and clutter and leaves just the strings caressing his voice. This allows Jackie to breath and for the listener to actually hear his singing. It's immediately evident on the lovely "Body And Soul" - his voice soaring in echo - actually Soulful as those final notes fade out. Mid-tempo numbers like "I Don't Know You Anymore" and "I Apologize" are a little samey but you can't deny those great vocals as the drum softly shuffles over his swooping voice. He gets deeply Soulful on "The Tear Of The Year" where he cried buckets last night. Robinson's liner notes are right to point out the vocal gymnastics in his cover of the perennial "Blue Moon" - swooping and swooning like a goodun - very impressive stuff. It ends on the deeply sentimental "We'll Be Together Again" where a lone George Shearing-like piano plinks in the background as Jackie waxes lyrical about 'smiles' and 'begging with your heart'...

You could call this Jackie Wilson's Lounge Room Satin Suit period - but I'd still argue that 1962's "Body And Soul" LP is a very warm reminder of his immense vocal skills...

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