One of the great treats for a soul fan in the mid-60s was to see Chuck Jackson’s show on the road. With Chuck backed by Bobby Scott and his band, the excitement and presence of his live act toured the U.S. to enthusiatic crowds across the country. Sometimes that enthusiasm nearly overcame Chuck and his fans alike. In the notes to the latest in our line of Chuck Jackson 2-on-1 soul albums originally released on the Wand label (CDKEND 254 Chuck Jackson – On Tour /Dedicated To The King), Chuck explains to CD booklet writer Bill Dahl some of the antics that they got up to on stage. One in particular involved pretending to throw his expensive sports jacket into the crowd.”Thank God, usually they didn’t go” says Chuck, “I had a trick. The way I would do it, I would throw it at the audience, but I put a curve on it. My valet was always a good catcher. It would make a curve like it’s going to the audience, and then just go backstage,” he said. “But I was in Atlanta, Georgia once, at the Civic Auditorium. I had just bought this, this was a ba-a-a-d suit! I loved it. And I had the coat balled in the right way that I do it, and I started to throw it out. When I did, the sleeve shot out a little bit. This girl just reached up and snatched it. It was just the easiest thing. I’ve seen people run to try to grab it, but she did it with no effort at all! She just reached up, and it was her coat! I sent my boys out to get it, but that girl was gone home! Gone! That’s the only time I’ve ever lost a jacket. It hurt!”
Produced by house A&R chief Luther Dixon, the live set was probably recorded at the Apollo theatre in New York City. Typical of the sort of set he would have done around the country in the mid-60s, there’s a mixture of his own songs and a selection of popular R&B hits of the time. From his own material comes Any Day Now, I Don’t Want To Cry, I Will Never Turn My Back On You, I Wake up Crying and of course his latest release at that moment - Beg Me. From the repertoire of his peers come versions of James Brown’s Please, Please, Please, William Bell’s Any Other Way and Ben E. King’s Stand By Me. There’s also a medley combining Marvin Gaye’s Stubborn Kind Of Fellow with Ray Charles’ I Can’t Stop Loving You . From the introductions and between-song interaction with the audience, it’s easy to sense that Chuck, his band and the audience were emjoying a rousing good time. Clearly the auural enthusiasm is captured on the first album on this 2-on-1, but it really would be good to have the visual side of it too to see what the female fan is up to towards the end of the set as Chuck tries to calm her down between songs!
As a contrast to the live LP, but following on in the in the series of tribute albums that Chuck made in the 60s, is an album devoted to songs made popular by Elvis Presley. The title alone, “Dedicated To The King”, shows the esteem that Elvis was held in by performers from across the musical spectrum. Chuck explained to Bill Dahl how the album came about. “Florence Greenberg (Scepter/Wand’s president) came in and said, ‘Everybody is out here talking about Elvis, but nobody does him. And he does you. He did Any Day Now. I think you should pay him a compliment and do something to him. We’ll call it “Dedicated to the King!”‘ That’s what we did. The thing is, I couldn’t do it then. So she flew out on the road. I was in Mississippi, Tennessee, ..somewhere. And she flew out on the road, and we did some of that stuff in a raggedy studio somewhere. But she wanted it right away, and I couldn’t stay in New York. So she followed me for three or four days, and we put it down.”
What Chuck ‘put down’ were ten of the King’s classic hits in an soulfully intepretative style. Eschewing the later schmaltzier film related songs of the 60s, Chuck goes for treatments of 50s hits like Heartbreak Hotel, the double-sider Hound Dog b/w Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock , Don’t , and a version of Crying in the Chapel (itself a rework of The Orioles waxing of the standard). Chuck’s sole stray into the King’s 60s material, and that only barely, is his rendition of It’s Now Or Never.
The “ON TOUR / DEDICATED TO THE KING” CD completes Kent’s 2-on-1 reissue programme for Chuck Jackson’s Wand albums.