Thursday, January 19, 2006

A hair past 'The Midnight Hour'

Play it: The Very Best of Wilson Picket (Rhino)

Another week, another unfortunate death of a soul legend (the last being the death of Lou Rawls.) Wilson Pickett died today of a heart attack at a hospital near his Virginia home, he was 64. If Lou Rawls was Mr. Smooth, then you could say Wilson Pickett was Mr. Rough, as both his raw voice and sweaty performances were quite the contrast to Rawls. His aggressive style helped change soul, adding an edge it didn't have before, and recording a string of hits for which he's fondly remembered. Rhino Records Pickett compilation, The Very Best of Wilson Pickett, is one of those rare collections that gets all the right songs together in a digestable fashion, so it's featured here (instead of one of my Essential mixes.)

Before his solo career, Pickett cut his teeth in the doo-wop group The Falcons, writing and singing their 1962 hit "I Found a Love" (Play it.) After going solo, Pickett signed with Atlantic (Stax Records) in 1964, and began his recording relationship with famed producer Jerry Wexler, the Stax house band (Booker T and the MGs) in Memphis, and the Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. His first proper album with the label (The Exciting Wilson Pickett, 1966 - Play it) contained many of the hits he's known for, "634-5789," "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)," "In The Midnight Hour," and "Land Of 1000 Dances" (which became his first top 10 hit.) He followed that up in the next few years with the monster hits "Mustang Sally" and "Funky Broadway."

In 1969, as rock began dominating the charts, Pickett added Duane Allman on guitar to his usual Muscle Shoals session crew, and covered a couple rock songs of the day. My favorite of which (and for which he had his next hit) was his rendition of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" (Play it.) Allman's guitar, together with the horns and Pickett's screams at the end are truly awe-inspiring. It's the song that always made me mourn the recent loss of Muscle Shoals studio the most, and now added to that is the loss of Wilson Picket himself.

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drake leLane said...

The Very Best Of Wilson Pickett (Rhino)

*In The Midnight Hour
*634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)
*Land Of 1000 Dances
*Mustang Sally
*Funky Broadway
*I'm In Love
*She's Lookin' Good
*Hey Jude - (With Duane Allman)
*Sugar Sugar
*Engine Number 9
*Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You
*Don't Knock My Love (Part 1)
*Fire And Water
*I'm A Midnight Mover
*I Found A Love (Part 1)
*Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

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drake leLane said...

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