Sunday, 11 December 2016

"Hey Jude/Right On" by WILSON PICKETT (2016 Edsel CD Remasters with Bonus Tracks - Vol. 4 of 5) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Funky Way..."

England's Edsel Records are no strangers to Soul-reissues. Across the decades they've touched on major retrospectives for Philadelphia International (O'Jays, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes), Holland-Dozier-Holland's HDH Label and Invictus Records (Chairmen Of The Board, Freda Payne and The Glass House) as well as anthologies for Ann Peebles, The Chi-Lites and Al Green covering their Hi Records label output.

For 2016 - our Demon Group heroes are tackling the whole of Wilson Pickett's ten-album stay between 1964 and 1972 at the legendary Atlantic Records. This fourth of five '2on1' sets issued 26 November 2016 in the UK (see full list below) deals with his seventh and eight studio LPs from 1969 and 1970 and comes bolstered up with three Bonus Tracks and a near 79-minute playing time.

Across these five digipak-releases (three come with extras – the 1st, 4th and 5th) - you also get exclusive single mixes and many unreleased tracks formerly only available on 2009's "Funky Midnight Mover..." – a 6CD mail-order set from Rhino Handmade – an item that is now long deleted and extremely pricey into the bargain. The booklets also feature new liner notes from noted Soul writer and uber-fan Tony Rounce.

Here are the details for Alabama's finest Midnight Mover...

UK released 26 November 2016 (2 December 2016 in the USA) – "Hey Jude/Right On" by WILSON PICKETT on Edsel EDSA 3062 (Barcode 740155506230) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD plus Three Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (78:52 minutes):

1. Save Me
2. Hey Jude
3. Back In Your Arms
4. Toe Hold
5. Night Owl
6. My Own Style Of Loving
7. A Man And A Half [Side 2]
8. Sit Down And Talk This Over
9. Search Your Heart
10. Born To Be Wild
11. People Make The World (What It Is)
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 7th studio album "Hey Jude" - released February 1969 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8215 (Stereo Only) and February 1969 in the UK on 588 170 (Stereo Only).

12. Groovy Little Woman
13. Funky Way
14. Sugar Sugar
15. Sweet Inspiration
16. This Old Town
17. You Keep Me Hangin' On
18. Lord Pity Us All [Side 2]
19. It's Still Good
20. Woman Likes To Hear That
21. She Said Yes
22. Hey Joe
23. Steal Away
Tracks 12 to 23 are his 8th studio album "Right On" - released March 1970 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8250 (Stereo Only) and April 1970 in the UK on Atlantic 2465 002 (Stereo Only).

24. Mini Skirt Minnie (March 1969 US 7" single on Atlantic 45-2611 - non-album A-side – "Back In Your Arms" from the "Hey Jude" LP was the B)
25. Now You See You, Now You Don't (November 1969 US 7" single on Atlantic 45-2682, Non-album B-side to "You Keep Me Hangin' On")
26. Cole, Cooke And Redding (March 1970 US 7" single on Atlantic 45-2722 - non-album A-side - "Sugar Sugar" from the "Right On" LP was the B)

Each of these five card digipaks is a gatefold with Volume 3 sporting a comprehensive 16-page booklet in the left flap with new liner notes from legendary Soul writer TONY ROUNCE – a man whose name has graced literally hundreds of quality CD reissues. He goes into all the chart statistics for 1969 and 1970 - the Cold Grits backing band in Miami - and Gregg Allman is pictured smiling at a laughing Pickett on Page 14. They even reproduce the original Enoch Gregory original liner notes for 1969's "Hey Jude" LP – but I'd have to say though that the inner flap and the space beneath the see-through CD tray being 'blank' and the nondescript colouring of the CD itself let the visual side down somewhat (could have been filled out with pictures and black/red label memorabilia). At least the three non-album single sides are both cool and relevant bonuses. Mastered by PHIL KINRADE – the tracks are licensed from Warners and are therefore the 1995 Rhino versions of old – full and punchy Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch CD Remasters from original tapes.

With US R&B chart positions of No. 15 for the "Hey Jude" LP in February 1969 and No. 36 in March 1970 for "Right On" (it barely scraped 197 on the Rock charts) when all his other albums easily made Top Ten before - Pickett's chart light was fading at this stage of his career. Not for the want of good material though or lack of smart cover version choices. Atlantic tried George Jackson's wonderful "A Man A Half" as a 7" single in November 1968 (Atlantic 45-2575) with the future Bobby Womack-penned LP cut ""People Make The World (What It Is)" as its flipside and were rewarded with a modest No. 20 chart position. Realising the world-dominating power of The Beatles Apple Records stuff - Soul acts began falling over themselves to trump-up Soulful takes of there melodies. Some people love Pickett's take on the Apple single "Hey Jude" which Atlantic pushed out late December 1968 with another George Jackson LP song on its B-side "Search Your Heart" - I'm ambivalent towards it. I tried to love a 2016 Ace Records CD called "Let It Be: Black America Sings Lennon, McCartney & Harrison" but I found it only confirmed my long-held suspicion that Soul artists should avoid The Beatles like a plague. The American public however liked it - giving the long and funkified "Hey Jude" a No. 13 placing on the R&B charts.

Better is the forgotten ballad "Back In Your Arms" penned by a trio of Soul songwriting heroes - George Jackson, Raymond Moore and Melvin Leakes - a belter with guitars (Duane Allman), brass and a powerhouse 'wish I was back' vocal performance from the Wicked P. Isaac Hayes and David Porter put up the fabulous Funk of "Toe Hold" - the in-house band digging in (Barry Beckett on piano as Duane gets funky on his axe). Don Covay's "Night Owl" is a return to the 'looky here' blasters of 1966 and 1967 - a huge dancer with Wilson giving it lots of 'uh' grunts as the band grooves like a congregation possessed of the holy Funky spirit. Duane Allman's playing is very forward in the mix of "My Own Style Of Loving" where Wilson tells us that he can't be beat when he comes top lovin' (men come from miles around hoping to get a lesson). And like so many of the previous WP albums I've reviewed - the mighty presence of Bobby Womack enrich proceedings - here it's on the chugger "Sit Down And Talk This Over" and the final LP ballad "People Make The World (What It Is)".

By the time "Right On" was released in March 1970 - Soul had moved away from Pickett's high-octane dancers to a troubled social consciousness with a nasty backbeat - Motown's Norman Whitfield and James Brown singing about inner cities destroyed with Heroin, rat-infested buildings being burned down for insurances scams, young men faced with Vietnam or unemployment. So in some ways "Groovy Little Woman" and "Funky Way" would have suited 1966 and 1967 - but in early 1970 already sound ever so slightly dated and out of place. Jeff Barry and Andy Kim's "Sugar Sugar" doesn't help matters much either - bubblegum Soul. Far better is Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's "Sweet Inspiration" and a song that's more closely associated with The Staple Singers - "This Old Town". A Wilson Pickett, Don Covay and William Stevenson co-write - "This Old Town" is the first time the album deals with the 'no faces' that separate the races and warns you don't have to rob and steal just to survive. Side 2 of "Right On" picks up with George Jackson’s good-advice parable "Woman Likes To Hear That" while the duo of covers are very, very good – Tim Rose's "Hey Joe" (Duane giving it a bit of Psych guitar) and the gospel 'God will make things alright' song "Steal Away" where his vocals are backed up by a foursome of righteous ladies that include Cissy Houston and Judy Clay.

The original Rhino CDs have been deleted for years – so this pairing of Pickett’s lesser-heard career is a very welcome reissue indeed.

"...I like it..." - Pickett sings on the chugging guitar Funk of "It's Still Good" - twinkling off-mike as his cooler-than-cool musical ensemble churns out yet another wicked Soul groove he can wrap his extraordinary voice around. I like it indeed. Dig in and enjoy...

PS: Titles in this 26 Nov 2016 Edsel CD Reissue Series for WILSON PICKETT are:

1. In The Midnight Hour/The Exciting Midnight Mover
(1966 and 1967 Stereo 1st and 2nd LPs plus Three Bonus Tracks
Edsel EDSA 3059 - Barcode 740155505936)

2. The Wicked Pickett/The Sound Of Wilson Pickett
(1966 and 1967 Stereo/Mono 3rd and 4th LPs – no bonus tracks
Edsel EDSA 3060 - Barcode 740155506032)

3. I’m In Love/The Midnight Mover
(1968 for both his 5th and 6th LPs – no bonus tracks
Edsel EDSA 3061 - Barcode 740155506131)

4. Hey Jude/Right On
(1969 and 1970 Stereo 7th & 8th LPs with Three Bonus Tracks
Edsel EDSA 3062 - Barcode 740155506230)

5. In Philadelphia/Don’t Knock My Love
(1970 and 1972 9th & 10th Stereo LPs with Seventeen Bonus Tracks
Edsel EDSK 7112 - Barcode 740155711238)

Edsel have also touched on PERCY SLEDGE in this series and his stay at Atlantic Records (three digipak CD reissues):

1. When A Man Loves A Woman/Warm & Tender Soul
(1966 and 1967 Stereo 1st & 2nd LPs plus Four Bonus Tracks
Edsel EDSA 3063 - Barcode 740155506339)

2. The Percy Sledge Way/Take Time To Know Her
(1967 and 1968 Stereo 3rd & 4th LPs with Eight Bonus Tracks
Edsel EDSK 7116 - Barcode 740155711634)

3. My Special Prayer/Singles And Rarities
(1970 fifth and final Atlantic LP - along with a compilation of 27 Bonus Tracks
Edsel EDSK 7113 - Barcode 740155711337)

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