It may have reached your ears that we here at Ace love our Southern soul. We have delved fairly deeply into the well and some of the greatest pleasure of the last few years has been excavating the XL and Sounds Of Memphis archive. One of the artists they looked after through the middle part of the 70s was the legendary songwriter George Jackson. His MGM, Chess and ER Music 45s were all made for Sounds of Memphis and the tape vaults in Memphis contained many more gems. Once we had added those to the three sides George had recorded at Hi in 1972 we have enough material to bring you the first George Jackson CD to feature his released material. And boy, are we pleased.
George was brought up in Mississippi and made his first recordings for Ike Turner at the very start of the 1960s. He made his name in Memphis, recording for Dorothy Hester and then Willie Mitchell, with Dan Greer for Goldwax and then becoming an important staff writer for that label. When Goldwax went bust he signed with Rick Hall’s Fame organisation, making a couple of singles but really prospering as a songwriter, writing amazing songs for Candi Staton and Clarence Carter, and writing his biggest hit for the Osmond’s with ‘One Bad Apple’. He continued to write for Fame through the 70s, but travelled back to Memphis in an attempt to get his career as a vocalist back on track.
His initial recordings for Willie Mitchell were a revelation and ‘Aretha, Sing One For Me’ put him on the charts. Despite a run of phenomenal singles that were released on MGM, Chess and ER Music, success seemed to drift away, with the final two releases now being very difficult to find. Our compilation gathers together all the singles that were recorded then (‘Aretha, Sing One For Me’ had an old 60s recording on the B-side) and adds to it a wealth of tracks that were recorded for Sounds Of Memphis but that didn’t make it out of the tape vaults. Virtually every song featured here is brilliant. Stand-outs for me include ‘Things Are Getting Better’ the A-side of the Chess single, a wonderful reading of ‘Dear Abby’ that would turn up in a version by Clarence Carter on his debut LP for ABC, the uptempo ‘If You Never See Me’ and ‘Aretha, Sing One For Me’ a classic tale of a jilted lover.
George left Memphis in the late 70s and for nearly 30 years has been writing songs for Malaco. In that time he has had one of his most visible successes with ‘The Only Way Is Up’ a song that he wrote for Otis Clay but that became a massive European hit in the hands of Coldcut featuring Yazz.
However, for me, it’s the classic recordings on this CD that showcase George at his very best.
By Dean Rudland