Musings from Mr. Solid
By John Lee
Last month when I was finishing my musings on public radio blues shows, my long time friend and “brother” Mark Thompson dropped by and laid on me a gift of the highest order: a CD of Soul/R&B singer James Carr’s complete Goldwax Records singles, 28 tunes in all. This is an example of soul singing at its best! From the classic of illicit love “The Dark End of the Street” (covered by Aretha Franklin) to The Bee-Gee’s “To Love Somebody," this man is as good as it gets!
The sorrowful ballad “These Ain’t Raindrops” reminds one of Otis Redding (these sides were recorded in Memphis) and the Soul/Gospel “Freedom Train” is a civil rights anthem that the record company was nervous about releasing, afraid of being political or promoting “propaganda”. It’s an up-tempo tune of hope and liberation. “Pouring Water on a Drowning Man” has always been one of my favorite gospel inspired ballads. It is the way a R&B ballad should be done! I could go on and on about James Carr and this incredible collection (The Complete Goldwax Records Singles - James Carr Kent/Soul cd 202). If you’re a fan of Soul-Blues this CD is for you. I hope you dig it as much as I do. James Carr passed away in 2001.
Speaking of great Soul/R&B singers, I would like to make mention of the passing of Wilson “Wicked” Pickett (March 18, 1941-Jan. 19, 2006). Wilson Pickett was a huge influence on me. When I was coming up in the mid-sixties he was all over the radio and every band played “Mustang Sally." Most bands didn’t do the song justice. Pickett’s version kicks ass!
I got a great CD of his greatest Atlantic Records sides. “Wilson Pickett’s Greatest Hits." Its 24 tunes from Pickett’s earliest hit “I Found A Love” (with The Falcons), his mega hits “Land Of 1,000 Dances," “In The Midnight Hour," and “Mustang Sally” to the pop covers of the early 70’s. It’s all good. Wilson Pickett had that gift (like Ray Charles) to take a sometimes average song and make it special. Pickett was a great shouter and he will be missed. Wilson Pickett was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
March Blues Birthdays
Ronnie Earl - March 10, 1953
Marcia Ball - March 20, 1949
Sue Foley - March 29, 1968
Eric Clapton - March 30, 1945
“Mississippi” John Hurt - March 8, 1892 (died 1966)
Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins - March 15, 1912 (died 1982)
Son House - March 21, 1902 (died 1988)
Otis Spann - March 21, 1930 (died 1970)
Rufus Thomas - March 26, 1917 (died 2001)
Leroy Carr - March 27, 1905 (died 1935)
Electric bassist John "Mr. Solid" Lee was born in Alaska and has been active in the Seattle blues scene for about 30 years. He currently plays with the Crossroads Band. Photo by Mike Coyote.