Monday, 2 December 2019

"The Brunswick Anthology" by JACKIE WILSON – Featuring Single and Album Tracks from 1957 to 1972 (November 2001 Brunswick 2CD Anthology – Original Tape Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Feel Those Vibrations…"

A proper little belter this one – 40 tracks – a shed load of hits and superb sound. Here are the whispers getting louder…

UK released November 2001 - "The Brunswick Anthology" by JACKIE WILSON is a 2CD set on Brunswick BICD1001 (Barcode 5060029810122) and breaks down as follows (all catalogue numbers are USA 7" singles):

Disc 1 (51:34 minutes):
1. Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Meet) (1957, Brunswick 9-55024, A)
2. To Be Loved (1958, Brunswick 9-55052, A)
3. Lonely Teardrops (1958, Brunswick 9-55105, A)
4. That’s Why (I Love You So) (1959, Brunswick 9-55121, A)
5. I’ll Be Satisfied (1959, Brunswick 9-55136, A)
6. You Better Know It (1959, Brunswick 9-55149, A)
7. Talk That Talk (1959, Brunswick 9-55165, A)
8. Night (1960, Brunswick 9-55166, A)
9. Doggin’ Around (1960, Brunswick 9-55166, B-side of "Night")
10. (You Were Made For) All My Love (1960, Brunswick 9-55167, A)
11. A Woman, A Lover, A Friend (1960, Brunswick 55167, B-side of "(You Were Made For) All My Love")
12. Alone At Last (1960, Brunswick 9-55170, A)
13. Am I The Man (1960, Brunswick 9-55170, B-side of "Alone At Last" – see Notes)
14. My Empty Arms (1961, Brunswick 9-55201, A)
15. The Tear Of The Year (1961, Brunswick 9-55201, B-side of "My Empty Arms")
16. Please Tell Me Why (1961, Brunswick 55208, A)
17. Your One And Only Love (1961, Brunswick 9-55208, B-side of "Please Tell Me Why")
18. I’m Coming On Back To You (1961, Brunswick 55216, A)
19. Years From Now (1961, Brunswick 55219, A)
20. You Don’t Know What It Means (1961, Brunswick 55219, B-side of "Years From Now")
[Notes: Track 13 is miscredited in the booklet and on the inlay as "I Am The Man" when its "Am I The Man"]

Disc 2 (57:09 minutes):
1. The Greatest Hurt (1962, Brunswick 55221, A)
2. I Just Can’t Help It (1962, Brunswick 55229, A)
3. Baby Workout (1963, Brunswick 55239, A)
4. Shake! Shake! Shake!  (1963, Brunswick 55246, A)
5. No Pity (In The Naked City) (1965, Brunswick 55280, A)
6. Soul Galore (1966, Brunswick 55290, A)
7. Think Twice [credited to Jackie Wilson and LaVern Baker] (1965, Brunswick 55287, A)
8. Whispers (Getting’ Louder) (1966, Brunswick 55300, A)
9. I Don’t Want To Lose You (1967, Brunswick 55309, A)
10. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher (1967, Brunswick 55336, A)
11. I’ve Lost You (1967, Brunswick 55321, A)
12. Since You Showed Me How To Be Happy (1967, Brunswick 55354, A)
13. For Your Precious Love (credited as Jackie Wilson and Count Basie) (1967, Brunswick 55365, A)
14. I Get The Sweetest Feeling (1968, Brunswick 55381, A)
15. Helpless (1969, Brunswick 55418, A)
16. I Still Love You (1969, Brunswick 55402, A)
17. (I Can Feel Those Vibrations) This Love Is Real (1970, Brunswick 55443, A)
18. Let This Be A Letter (To My Baby) (1970, Brunswick 55435, A)
19. Love Is Funny That Way (1971, Brunswick 55461, A)
20. You Got Me Walking  (1972, Brunswick 55467, A)

The inlay is a very disappointing 8-page affair with basic track credits, a list of his American and British chart achievements and a few words on Pages 2 and 3 about his career and tragic demise. There are no decent photos to speak of and the gorgeous American 7” picture sleeves that came with "That Why (I Love You So)", "Talk That Talk", "Night", "Alone At Last", "The Greatest Hurt" and "Let This Be A Letter (To My Baby)" are not here (neither are any of the EPs or albums). It’s a functionary affair when the great man surely deserved far better.

But all of that goes out the window when you hear the remasters (doesn’t say who did them) - which are fantastic – full of life, presence and a joy that just won’t quit. Track after track across both discs impress over and over again – the superb original Production values shining through.

Wilson’s knack of touching the public made him one of Brunswick’s biggest sellers. Six of his 61 chart records between 1956 and 1975 hit the US R&B No.1 spot – "Lonely Teardrops", "You Better Know It", "Doggin' Around", "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend", "Baby Workout" and "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher". And of course the truly fab "Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Meet)" was a belated UK Number 1 single on the Pop charts in November 1986 after a video took British fans by storm (its original chart placing was 6 in November 1957 on Coral). And such was the popularity of "I Get The Sweetest Feeling" in the Northern Soul clubs of Britain that it hit the UK charts no less than three times (1972, 1975 and 1987) while the uplifting "Higher And Higher" has graced more Movie Soundtracks than you can shake a stick at.

But where this excellent (though admittedly too short) double really works is in the lesser-heard nuggets like the gorgeous Soul dancer "That's Why (I Love You So)" where his operatic vocals and the fantastic Production values of Brunswick collide. "Talk That Talk" is joyful. And speaking of vocal gymnastics – how good are quivering aches and yelps on the bluesy "Doggin' Around" with that church organ and " keeps so upset..." lyrics. His own not inconsiderable song-writing talent surfaces in the irrepressible "You Better Know It" (a co-write with Norm Henry) – a song that featured prominently in the movie "Go Johnny Go". 

Things go smoochy with "The Tear Of The Year" (those big strings baby) and again the audio quality is fantastic. There's hiss on "Please Tell My Why" but again after a few moments you ignore it as he does his crying vocal – slaying all in his path. Superb sound resurfaces on "I'm Coming On Back To You" and the gorgeous "You Don't Know What It Means" with its torch-song combo of Strings, Backing Singers and Jackie giving it "Won't Somebody Help Me!" wailing throughout.

When you get to Disc 2, the R 'n' B shouters of the Fifties have segued into crafted and sophisticated Soul penned by secret giants like Carl Davis, Van McCoy and Eugene Record. Over and above the famous tunes like "Whispers", "Higher" and "I Get The Sweetest Feeling"  – you get cool Northern Soul dancers like "I Don't Want To Lose You Now" and ballads in the shape of "No Pity (In The Naked City)". And even when you get out of the Sixties – Johnny Moore and Eugene Record (of The Chi-Lites) were still providing him with superb songs into the Seventies like the hugely upbeat "(I Can Feel Those Vibrations) This Love Is Real" (as joy as Soul can get) and the pleader "Let This Be A Letter (To My Baby)".

Someone (like Bear Family or Ace) should of course do his complete Brunswick/Coral 7" singles run from 1956 to 1975 onto 2 or 3 CD. But until such time as that – seek out this (now deleted) 2CD set of Soulful joy - and find out why the ex-boxer and singing/stage dynamo Jackie Wilson was nicknamed Mr. Excitement…

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INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order