Hold On & Double Dyamite…Plus
Please note, territorial restrictions may apply to this product.
to the first of two releases from Edsel that serve to chronicle the
eternally great Stax recordings of Sam Moore and the late Dave Prater
– ‘Sam and Dave’ as they will always be known to their legion of fans. Along
with Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave
virtually define late 60s soul.
first volume covers the duo’s first eighteen months as Stax artists (1965-6),
and pairs ‘Hold On, I’m Coming’ and ‘Double Dynamite’, their
first two albums for the label, with a bonus selection of non-album A- and
B-sides that did not make it to either
written and produced by David Porter and Isaac Hayes (before “Shaft”),
these two albums feature the duo’s breakthrough Stax hits – six in total,
all of which made the R&B Top 10 and crossed over to the Pop Hot
100 – including “You Don’t Know Like I Know” (featured here in its
mono version, which has more overdubs), # 1 hit “Hold On, I’m Comin’”,
“Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” and “When Something Is Wrong With My
booklet features a 4000 word essay by acknowledged expert and
Blues & Soul contributor Tony Rounce.
|| ||Hold On I’m Comin’|
|| ||If You Got The Loving (I’ve Got The Time)|
|| ||I Take What I Want|
|| ||Ease Me|
|| ||I Got Everything I Need|
|| ||Don’t Make It So Hard On Me|
|| ||It’s A Wonder|
|| ||Don’t Help Me Out|
|| ||Just Me|
|| ||You Got It Made|
|| ||You Don’t Know Like I Know [mono version]|
|| ||Blame Me (Don’t Blame My Heart)|
|| ||A Place Nobody Can Find|
|| ||Goodnight Baby|
|| ||Sweet Home|
|| ||You Got Me Hummin’|
|| ||Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody|
|| ||That’s The Way It’s Gotta Be|
|| ||When Something Is Wrong With My Baby|
|| ||Soothe Me|
|| ||Just Can’t Get Enough|
|| ||Sweet Pains|
|| ||I’m Your Puppet|
|| ||Sleep Good Tonight|
|| ||I Don’t Need Nobody (To Tell Me ‘Bout My Baby)|
|| ||Home At Last|
|| ||Use Me|
There’s a ‘plus’ on each of these releases which bring together Sam Moore and Dave Prater’s first four Stax/Atlantic albums, together with non-album a- and b-sides of the period. Taken as a pair, the booklets cover an eighteen page in-depth look at the Sam & Dave duo by way of a Tony Rounce ongoing essay that nicely complements the undoubtedly welcome listening experience provided. Indeed, the question I had to ask myself after listening to this material anew was, how come it has been so long since these songs were last on my player? Was it the ultra-familiarity of songs like ‘Hold On I’m Comin’ and ‘Soul Man’ - still to be heard blasting the speakers of pubs across the land - that stopped me delving deeper? It certainly wasn’t because I was bored with ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ - if ever a song deserved its huge success that was it; so maybe I was just being pretentious and steering myself away from names favoured by ‘the masses’. (How dare they!) Well, steer away no more. The tracks listed above between the ‘Hold On I’m Comin’ title number and ‘You Don’t Know Like I Know’ make up the original first album represented here. It made it to the very top of the ‘Billboard’ r&b album listings and justifiably so, personal picks here being Isaac Hayes/David Porter’s driving ‘Ease Me’, the Eddie Floyd/Deanie Parker-penned ‘Don’t Make It So Hard On Me’ and the deepies, ‘I Got Everything I Need’ (‘Hold On...’’s flip) and ‘Blame Me (Don’t Blame My Heart)’. The (three) bonus tracks on this reissue set sit between that set and ‘Double Dynamite’, viz the David Porter song, ‘A Place Nobody Can Find’, a drum-led toe-tapper, and a pair of Steve Cropper songs: ‘Goodnight Baby’, a plodding ballad and (oddly) an a-side flop and ‘Sweet Home’, a spoken-intro’d swayer. ‘Double Dynamite’ gave us the aforementioned ‘When Something Is Wrong...’, together with other hit tracks in the shape of ‘Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody’ (#8 ‘Billboard’, but a lowly peak of #30 ‘Cashbox’) and ‘You Got Me Hummin’’ - #7 r&b ‘Billboard’, #23 peak with ‘Cashbox’. (Did those ‘Cashbox’ chart compilers have something against Sam & Dave?!) The twosome get a little bluesy for a take on Little Willie John’s 1956 hit, ‘Home At Last’, harmonise to a tambourine beat via ‘Sweet Pains’ and prove that James & Bobby Purify’s ‘I’m Your Puppet’ could have been tailor-made for them too.
The pairing of ‘Soul Man’ and ‘I Thank You’ - plus nine bonus tracks over all - take us into 2cd set territory. ‘Soul Man’ itself spent no less than seven weeks at the top of the ‘Billboard’ r&b chart, crossing over to stay three weeks at #2 pop but no other tracks (beside the ‘May I Baby’ flip) were pulled off as 45 cuts. Compared with the rest of the album, ‘Let It Be Me’ seems an odd choice of songs for inclusion but the twosome make it work, testifying for all its worth, although Steve Cropper and Joe Shamwell’s chugging ‘Broke Down Piece Of Man’ is perhaps more suitable Sam & Dave material, while Homer Banks/Allen Jones’ ‘I’ve Seen What Loneliness Can Do’ and, even more so, Al Bell and Booker T. Jones’ ‘Just Keep Holding On’ sit with the best of the duo’s slow material. A couple of bonus tracks make up cd-one: ‘Soothe Me’ was an a-side recorded live in London - personally, I’d have always gone for the stunning, downtempo flip, ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’, another Banks and Jones composition. As a single, the ‘I Thank You’ title track over on cd-two, was the guys last Stax-recorded number to actually appear on the label, the album itself and the Sam & Dave contract falling under the Atlantic label auspices, kicking off singles-wise with ‘You Don’t Know What You Mean To Me’ (#20 r&b ‘Billboard’, #19 ‘Cashbox’). Of the album tracks (which Tony Rounce suggests comprise some earlier recordings from the vaults), the punchy ‘Don’t Waste That Love’ would surely have been singles material, while Otis Redding’s ‘These Arms Of Mine’ is damn near perfection, as is ‘If I Didn’t Have A Girl Like You’, a Hayes/Porter slowie, more orchestrated than the norm. Maybe it was not seeing the Sam & Dave name on that blue label with those high-flying discs at the top but, whatever, the move across to the Atlantic major coincided with diminished chart success. Okay, top twenty (just) r&b for ‘Can’t You Find Another Way (Of Doing It)’ and ‘Soul Sister Brown Sugar’, both bonus tracks here, is not to be sneezed at but a top ten entry would be no more and Atlantic would issue no further albums, despite having sufficient material. The swaying ‘Born Again’ and its pounding ‘Get It’ flip, both Isaac Hayes compositions, represents the last single on these fine discs but there would be five more (with just one moderate chartster by way of 1971’s ‘Don’t Pull Your Love’).
The Second Disc
Mention “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and chances are you can hear that confident, swaggering horn riff that insistently opens the Sam and Dave classic. Indeed, all you really need to know is in that riff! All four albums recorded by Sam and Dave for Stax/Atlantic have been collected by Edsel on two new releases, and these expanded editions (including various single sides) add up to true cornerstones for any R&B or soul music library. But the label hasn’t stopped there. A very different kind of R&B is on display on a two-on-one CD bringing back to print two of the three secular albums recorded for Columbia Records by Earth Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey. Liner notes for both the Sam and Dave and Bailey titles have been provided by Tony Rounce, and the annotator is able to draw a line between these early soul men and a latter-day great.
Sam Moore & Dave Prater were actually signed by Jerry Wexler to the Atlantic label proper, but almost immediately loaned out to the Stax label, then distributed by Atlantic. Wexler must have intuitively sensed that the company’s New York uptown soul stylings wouldn’t be quite right for the duo, but that the Stax team could work their magic on the vocal duo. Eight of the songs on that first album released in April 1966 and entitled Hold On, I’m Comin’ after the hit single were co-written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, arguably as important a duo as the titular one. They made equally important contributions on all four of the albums collected by Edsel, including five of the songwriting credits on the follow-up Double Dynamite, with which Hold On is paired as Edsel EDSS 1035.
Still one of the Stax label’s calling cards, the Hayes/Porter single was an R&B chart topper, the first such for the label since 1962’s “Green Onions.” (Odd footnote: the reissue adds a “g” to “comin’” on the spine and album cover, while Atlantic actually pressed a second printing with “I’m A-Comin’” to avoid any risqué suggestion in the title phrase!) The album itself doesn’t live up to the high standards of its title track, containing five previously-issued tracks. It’s a fine listening experience but not a true “album” in the classic sense, as Stax was very much a singles-oriented company at that time. One does wonder, however, why the duo was riding a turtle on the cover, for they were definitely in the fast lane, from the greasy “Ease Me” (“with your lovin’”) to the churchy ballad “Just Me.” Steve Cropper and Eddie (“Knock on Wood”) Floyd’s “I Got Everything I Need” is a Memphis soul stew with a sound instantly recognizable to any fan of deep southern soul – impassioned vocals, languid piano contrasting with sly, smoking horns, rock-steady drums, crisp guitars. Floyd also teamed with Willa Parker to write “Don’t Make It So Hard on Me,” and the album’s twelve tracks make for a pleasing bag of tunes in various tempi but all suited to the same mood and themes of love lost and found.
The driving “You Don’t Know Like I Know” is heard here in mono, while all of the other album tracks are in stereo; the stereo version was missing an overdub so Edsel opted to include the more “complete” mono version. Three singles have been appended to Hold On, I’m Comin’.
Much had changed in just a few months by winter 1966 when Double Dynamite was released in January 1967. The Summer of Love was just around the corner. The groovy, psychedelic cover art may have been a concession to the times, but the music within was still timeless. It’s not a markedly different album in tone than its predecessor; “You Got Me Hummin’” is the highlight, but this unusual funk workout failed to make a big noise at the time for Sam and Dave. “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” offers a more muscular (modern?) sound but the Hayes/Porter song lacked the hook and memorable riff of “Hold On,” the yardstick by which every subsequent Sam and Dave song would be measured.
For the first time, cover versions were introduced into the mix including Sam Cooke’s “Soothe Me” and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “I’m Your Puppet” (a hit for another soul duo, James and Bobby Purify). Though the chorus harmonies of Sam and Dave were uniquely their own, the production lacks the distinctive glockenspiel echoes of the Purifys’ version but otherwise stays true to the blueprint. But, boy, did the Porter/Hayes team deliver with “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby,” a stone-cold ballad classic. It barely missed the Top 40 but this song (actually recorded first by Charlie Rich) gave Moore and Prater their best placing in many singles.
Sam Moore and Dave Prater were without peer the greatest male duo in the history of soul. With Otis Redding, they were the voices and faces of Stax Records, cutting such exuberant, iconic singles as “Hold On, I’m Comin”, “Soul Man”, and “I Thank You” for the label from 1965 through 1969. Laughing in the face of the much-repeated jive that soul was exclusively a singles medium in the ‘60s, Sam & Dave also released a string of phenomenal long players for Stax. That label has been defunct for nearly four decades, leaving the U.K.’s Edsel Records to sweep up these unheralded classics for a much needed refurbishing. Souped up with a fresh remastering job and decked out with a glut of bonus tracks, some of the most vital soul sides of the ‘60s now sound cleaner, meaner, bigger, and funkier than ever. As soon as “Hold On, I’m Comin’” kicks the guys’ first Stax L.P. into action, you’ll think Al Jackson is whipping his drum kit in your living room. Donald “Duck” Dunn’s bass thrums your eardrum on “Don’t Help Me Out”. Best of all, Sam’s sweet tenor and Dave’s gritty baritone are as present and punchy as the sound of your feet when you inevitably start stomping along to the beat.
That first Stax platter, Hold On, I’m Comin’ (1966), presents Sam and Dave boiled down to their essence. It’s the hardest, rawest record in their repertoire. Over the salty bedrock of Booker T. & The M.G.’s, Sam & Dave explore all the possibilities of duo-singing: harmonizing, trading lines, contrasting each other with distinctly different approaches and ranges, dropping encouraging asides off mic, and at their most transcendent, bouncing off each other in fleet counterpoint, as they do on the magnificent “Ease Me”.
Also released in ’66, Double Dynamite builds on Hold On by introducing some unexpected rhythms into the mix with the herky-jerk funk of “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody”, the stately bounce of “Sweet Pains”, the breezy stroll of “I Don’t Need Nobody (To Tell Me ‘Bout My Baby)”, and the slow-burn blues pulse of “Home at Last”. As is the case with each of these albums, the lead-off track is a big hit single, and hearing “You Got Me Hummin’” with such clarity, its amazing to think that radio censors took issue with the remotely suggestive title of “Hold On, I’m Comin’” but apparently didn’t have a problem with this track’s unmistakably erotic moaning.
Sexy stuff like “You Got Me Hummin’” was a long way from Sam & Dave’s roots as gospel crooners. So was the guy’s next and biggest smash, “Soul Man”, but that single’s accompanying album was a retreat from the raucous raunch of Hold On, I’m Comin’ and Double Dynamite. A version of the standard “Let It Be Me” and “Just Keep Holdin’ On” indicate how Sam & Dave might have sounded had they stuck with sacred music in ‘67. While Soul Men is a smokier, mellower record than the ones it followed, the down-tempo vibe allows the guys a freer playing field to cajole and improvise. For sheer singing, Soul Men might be Sam & Dave’s most impressive showcase, even if it isn’t their most electrifying.
The wildness of Sam & Dave’s first two albums and the elegant polish of their third mesh gloriously on their final Stax L.P. Annotator Tony Rouse hypothesizes that I Thank You is actually a hodgepodge of new cuts and older outtakes, though the entire album sports a modern sheen. For the first time, the essential backing of bass, drums, guitar, and horns swells with strings, vibraphone, and a variety of keyboards and percussion. The tracks are the duo’s most eclectic, with the unpredictable “You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me” sitting alongside the symphonic “Everybody’s Got to Believe in Somebody” and the tougher-than-tough “Ain’t That a Lot of Love” (which Taj Mahal would soon immortalize in “The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus”). The album also features one of soul’s greatest double-sided singles: “I Thank You”/“Wrap It Up”.
While Rouse’s superb and extensive liner notes suggest changing tastes for the psychedelic soul of The Temptations and the increasingly personal approach of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye left Sam & Dave sounding a bit out of step with the late ‘60s, the growth the duo displayed on their four Stax albums implies they may have caught up with their more progressive peers had they kept working. Of course, with Stax beginning to stumble and their own working relationship always troubled, Sam & Dave called it quits in 1970. They reunited before long but never again produced work as powerful as these four Stax L.P.s.
Edsel’s reissues pair Hold On, I’m Comin’ on a single disc with Double Dynamite and Soul Men on a double-set with I Thank You. Stellar, non-L.P. singles, such as “A Place Nobody Can Find”, “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down”, and “Can’t You Find Another Way (Of Doing It)”, fill out these essential collections.