Huey Meaux recorded more soul music in the 60s and 70s than any other producer in Texas, leasing some of it to nationally distributed labels such as Jamie and Scepter and issuing even more of it on the dozens of labels he ran in conjunction with various business partners. He wasn’t the only producer in South Texas but the number of singles that bear the legend Produced by Huey P Meaux could fool anyone into thinking he was.
Many of soul’s greatest names got their break with the Crazy Cajun. Some worked with him for only a short time, others such as Barbara Lynn stayed with him for virtually all of their active careers. If Don Robey’s Duke and Peacock labels shaped the template for 50s R&B in Houston, then hundreds of 45s that Huey put out between 1960 and 1980 provided the same service for those decades.
For the last couple of years, my colleague Alec Palao and I have been working our way through the beautifully-filed tape vault in Houston’s Sugar Hill studios, transferring the many masters that comprise Huey’s recorded legacy. It’s been a rewarding experience and a learning curve for both of us. This volume of “South Texas Rhythm ‘n’ Soul Revue” is a welcome by-product of our trips.
Some names here will be familiar to serious soul fans: Johnny Copeland, Johnny Adams, Jean Knight, Jackie Paine and Joe Medwick, for example. Others will surely become much better-known as a result of this compilation. To represent all facets of 60s Texas soul we’ve also included great sides by swamp pop greats such as Warren Storm, whose take on ‘Tennessee Waltz’ is a highlight of the set, and Chicano octet Sunny and the Sunliners who do Earl King’s ‘Trick Bag’ a similarly splendid service. We’ve even got young Johnny and Edgar Winter tearing through ‘Out Of Sight’ in a manner that would make James Brown himself proud.
The highlights for many will be the recently unearthed original demos of soul classics ‘Neighbor Neighbor’ and ‘You’ll Lose A Good Thing’ by their authors, Alton Valier and Barbara Lynn respectively, which offer a priceless opportunity to hear how these songs sounded before they became hits. All in all, a window on what the music scene in and around Houston was like almost 50 years ago.
By Tony Rounce