Soul Men & I Thanl You…Plus
Please note, territorial restrictions may apply to this product.
to the second 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.
a Stax Roadshow in Europe in early 1967 that featured the label’s
biggest acts, backed by the members of Booker T and the MGs and the
Mar-Keys just as they were on the records, Sam and Dave returned to the
studio. The first single was “Soul Man” which shot to # 1 R & B and # 2
Pop, followed by the album “Soul Men”.
next album was “I Thank You”, preceded by the # 4 single of the
same name (later covered by Z.Z. Top!), and followed by another three
chart singles. These non-album A-sides (and their B-sides) are all included
here as bonus tracks, as is the earlier B-side “I Can’t Stand Up For
Falling Down”. Remodelled by Elvis Costello in 1980, it became one of
his biggest hits.
booklet features a 4500 word essay by acknowledged expert and
Blues & Soul contributor Tony Rounce.
|| ||Soul Man|
|| ||May I Baby|
|| ||Broke Down Piece Of Man|
|| ||Let It Be Me|
|| ||Hold It Baby|
|| ||I’m With You|
|| ||Don’t Knock It|
|| ||Just Keep Holding On|
|| ||The Good Runs The Bad Way|
|| ||Rich Kind Of Poverty|
|| ||I’ve Seen What Loneliness Can Do|
|| ||I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down|
|| ||Soothe Me [live in London]|
|| ||I Thank You|
|| ||Everybody Got to Believe in Somebody|
|| ||These Arms of Mine|
|| ||Wrap It Up|
|| ||If I Didn’t Have a Girl Like You|
|| ||You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me|
|| ||Don’t Turn Your Heater On|
|| ||Talk to the Man|
|| ||Love is After Me|
|| ||Ain’t That a Lot of Love|
|| ||Don’t Waste That Love|
|| ||That Lucky Old Sun|
|| ||This Is Your World|
|| ||Can’t You Find Another Way (Of Doing It)|
|| ||Still Is The Night|
|| ||Soul Sister, Brown Sugar|
|| ||Come On In|
|| ||Born Again|
|| ||Get It|
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
Whereas Hold On and Double Dynamite were collected on a single disc, Soul Men/I Thank You has been released as a 2-CD package (Edsel EDSD 2131). Producers Hayes and Porter offered up just three songs for 1967’s Soul Men, with Hayes contributing a fourth with co-writer Paul Selph. But among those three songs was “Soul Man,” finally the song that would restore Sam and Dave to the top of the charts! Though the lovely Lulu’s “To Sir with Love” kept it from the top spot on the pop chart, it hit No. 1 R&B. There’s plenty to savor on the rest of Soul Men, too. “May I Baby” combines the sweet and the torrid, while “Just Keep Holdin’ On” is a rare spotlight for Dave. “Hold It Baby” also continues the “holdin’” theme, with its amusing and then-timely cry, “I thought I left enough love with you, baby, to last till 1973!” And Messrs. Moore and Prater would never have been confused with the Everly Brothers, but they do take Don and Phil’s “Let It Be Me” to church! Among the bonus material added to Soul Men is the original single “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” which is always a revelation for fans of Elvis Costello’s cover version!
The final album in this series, I Thank You, bore the Atlantic label rather than the Stax one, the company’s distribution deal with Stax having expired. But the album was still recorded at Stax, produced by Hayes and Porter, who upped the ante by writing a full seven songs. Tony Rounce speculates in his notes that I Thank You was assembled from leftovers, but it’s a fitting farewell not just to Sam and Dave (who would sporadically reunite despite their personal conflicts) but to the entire first age of Stax, then making way for a new, far funkier sound.
“Everybody Got to Believe in Somebody” was sweetened with strings, which makes it one of the album’s most distinctive tracks. It’s also unique for being a genuine duet between the two men, rather than the typical trading off on verses and singing together on the chorus. It’s amazing that this single missed the R&B charts, with its forward-thinking sound. (Strings recurred on “If I Didn’t Have a Girl Like You” and the dynamic “Talk to the Man,” as well.) On the other end of the musical spectrum, you might feel sanctified listening to the shouted introduction to Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper’s storming “You Don’t Know,” while a cover of the standard “That Lucky Old Sun” is similarly impassioned. Seven more singles are included following I Thank You, making these two releases the most comprehensive Sam and Dave releases yet, a virtually complete survey of their work at Stax/Atlantic. And now for something (almost) completely different…
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.