This second volume is the label’s golden period, where classic southern soul 45s poured out and James Carr cemented his place in the pantheon of great soul singers with a series of releases that are simply jaw-dropping.
However Goldwax’s owners worked hard to diversify, in the hope that it wouldn’t suddenly be caught in the cold by a sudden change in musical fashion.
1966-7 was when James Carr released five singles. The run of the first four A-sides ‘You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up’, ‘Love Attack’, ‘Pouring Water On A Drowning Man’ and ‘Dark End Of The Street’ are peerless, and it is almost unbelievable that they were a consecutive run of singles. The Ovations also released some superb 45s throughout this period as did number two soul man Spencer Wiggins, who served up the sublime ‘Uptight Good Woman’, among others. There are also brilliant slices of southern soul from Percy Milem, Eddie Jefferson, George (Jackson) and (Dan) Greer and Barbara Perry.
Part of the fun of a complete singles set are the oddities and one-offs that come up. Here are excursions into garage rock, with the respected local Memphis group the Yo Yos aping the sounds of the British Invasion, who were influenced by the sounds of America in the first place. It also sees the start of an attempt to move into the country market with records by Kathy Davis and Carmol Taylor, which led to the launch of a new label – Timmy – specializing in this type of music. The singles usually included one side of the sort of country ballads that are a close relation to the deepest southern soul. They are a pleasure to hear and are reissued for the very first time.
There is also a wider sense of the R&B and soul world beyond the impassioned voices of Carr and Wiggins: OB McClinton released his final, Ernie K Doe-sounding 45; there is a typical Memphis instrumental from Gene “Bowlegs” Miller; and an attempt or two by Ivory Joe Hunter to rekindle his career. The veteran star’s 40s and 50s recordings were very much favourites of Elvis Presley, and Hunter was based in Memphis throughout the 60s.
Goldwax’s golden age was when their main star was regularly in the charts and their recordings were hailed as great. These were always strong enough to stand alone. What is fascinating is to hear them in context of what was going on around them.
By Dean Rudland