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Archive for the ‘Phillip Mitchell’ Category

Ace Heads Back to the “Hall of Fame” and The “Cellar of Soul”

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Hall of Fame Volume 3Ace Records’ Kent label will travel just about anywhere to bring you the greatest soul you’ve never heard – hence, Kent has recently revisited both the Hall of Fame and the Cellar of Soul in new installments of each series.

Back in March of last year, we reported on Hall of Fame Volume 2, which presented 24 cuts recorded at Rick Hall’s storied FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – 20 of which were previously unissued.  The new, third volume of Hall of Fame boasts another 24 slabs of prime southern soul, only two of which have ever previously seen the light of day!  This release is especially timely considering that the well-regarded 2013 documentary Muscle Shoals, detailing the FAME story on screen, has just arrived on DVD and Blu-ray.  Whereas the first two volumes of Hall of Fame include tracks from both male and female artists (not to mention groups!), Volume 3 focuses purely on the great male singers who recorded on Hall’s hallowed grounds.

Many of the names here will be familiar to Ace devotees as subjects of their own anthologies on the label.  Clarence Carter (whose complete FAME singles output has been released on Ace) appears on three songs including “I Feel a Burning,” an embryonic version of what would become “Tell Daddy,” best known in Etta James’ gender-switched recording as “Tell Mama.” (Carter’s “Tell Daddy” appeared on Hall of Fame Volume One back in 2012.)  George Jackson, subject of three FAME volumes from Ace, is represented with the ultra-rare “I Don’t Want to Know” – even the identity of its authors has been lost to time – and Prince Phillip Mitchell delivers the lively proclamation that “Hail! Hail! The Gang’s All Here!”

Two more of the exciting finds here are “You’re Too Much” and “Why Don’t You Care” from Otis Redding protégé Billy Young.  Redding wrote the former and had a hand in its production, as well.  As “Too Much,” it was issued on Mercury Records in 1967.  The latter track was recorded at the same session as Young’s Chess single of the southern soul staple “You Left the Water Running.”  Redding frequently recommended acts to FAME’s Rick Hall, among them Herman Moore and the duo billed here as Billy and Clyde.  The tape to “World of My Own” was found by the Ace archaeologists in a box marked “Otis acts,” with the song likely recorded at FAME by Redding and Hall.  The identities of Billy and Clyde remain unknown, as do a couple more acts on Hall of Fame Volume 3 billed less colorfully as Unknown Male No. 1 and Unknown Male No. 2.  What isn’t unknown, however, is that these voices had grit, authenticity and vocal power in abundance.   Just hit the jump to keep reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 14, 2014 at 09:03

Mary Wells, Ben E. King, Johnnie Taylor Join Kent’s Celebration of “The Phillip Mitchell Songbook”

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Something New to Do - Phillip Mitchell Songbook“Prince” Phillip Mitchell is in some mighty good company.  The Kentucky-born singer and songwriter, who rose to prominence composing songs for deeply soulful artists including Millie Jackson and Bobby Womack, is the latest to receive a career retrospective from Ace Records’ Songwriters and Producers series.  With the Ace/Kent release of Something New to Do: The Phillip Mitchell Songbook (CDKEND 394), he joins such illustrious talents as Dan Penn, Burt Bacharach, Randy Newman, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and Carole King and Gerry Goffin.  The 21-track overview features songs by both Jackson and Womack along with Ben E. King, Joe Simon, Mary Wells, Candi Staton, Bobby Sheen and many more who benefited from Mitchell’s gift of song.  As Mitchell’s name isn’t as famous as any of the above-named writers or artists, Kent’s new collection of his underrated catalogue is long overdue and well worth exploring.

Mitchell expertly crafted a bevy of songs of love lost and found that, while frequently wrenching, were still wrapped in up-tempo grooves.  His southern soul compositions were recorded by a Who’s Who of artists at most of R&B’s pre-eminent labels: Atlantic, Hi, Stax and Malaco among them.  Before he joined The Spinners, Missouri-born John Edwards wrapped his pipes around Mitchell’s “Cold Hearted Woman” for Aware Records. “I can’t believe it, you’re so evil!  How you can just walk out on me/Never look back to see me grieving…,” Edwards wails over a slinky track that would make Al Green proud.  Though this fine recording sat on a shelf until Kent’s excavation in 1996, Edwards did well for himself as the voice of Michael Zager-produced Spinners hits like “Working My Back to You/Forgive Me Girl” and “Cupid/I’ve Loved You for a Long Time.”  Another shelved recording, Garland Green’s “(You Gotta) Come Through Me,” was cut in 1975 but not released until 1990.  It’s packed with pop crossover appeal, boasting a catchy melody and tight arrangement.  Its sinuous horns could have come from one of Isaac Hayes’ Shaft-era projects, and Green delivers with a typically potent vocal performance.

One of Mitchell’s most important musical associations was with Mel & Tim, the Stax singing-cousins duo.  Mel & Tim recorded no fewer than five Mitchell songs on their Stax LP debut, including the selection here, “Free for All (Winner Take All).”  Ernie Shelby’s “Carry Me” also has a Stax flavor, and it’s no surprise that it was another Mitchell composition recorded by Mel & Tim.  Perhaps the duo’s most famous Mitchell song is “Starting All Over Again,” a 1972 Top 20 Pop/Top 5 R&B hit.  Rather than opt for that hit version, the compilers here have chosen a fine cover by Stax labelmate Johnnie Taylor.

Keep reading after the jump, where you’ll find more including the track listing with discography and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 15, 2013 at 13:07