I’ll never understand why the term “one hit wonder” has come to be seen as pejorative. One hit is certainly one more than I ever had – how about you?
Doris Troy placed only one song on the US Hot 100, but what a song! ‘Just One Look’ has endured as a much-covered standard, heard in countless movies and commercials. If that one wonderful hit is all you know of singer-songwriter-producer-arranger-session vocalist-actress Doris Troy, then here’s chance to catch up with what you missed. I’ll give you a hint – you’ve missed a lot. Doris Troy earned every hyphen. “I’ll Do Anything: The Doris Troy Anthology 1960-1996” amasses, for the first time ever, songs from every phase of a most illustrious career, ranging from her very first recording to her last.
Affectionately dubbed Mama Soul, Doris Troy cut her teeth singing in church and worked as a teenaged usherette at New York’s legendary Apollo Theater before joining Cissy Houston, Dionne and Dee Warwick and Judy Clay in forming the premier New York studio backup group (two Chuck Jackson classics that feature cameos by Doris are included herein). She released two singles in 1960 as Doris Payne and a 1961 duet under the name Jay & Dee (all three make their digital debut here) before striking gold with her self-penned superhit.
10 sterling examples of her tenure with Atlantic Records comprise the heart of this set, including the irresistibly catchy ska-tinged ‘What’cha Gonna Do About It’ and ‘Please Little Angel’, co-written with a then-fledgling writing team named Ashford and Simpson. Incidentally, Doris co-wrote the song that gives this anthology its title, ‘I’ll Do Anything’, with another nascent writing combine you may have heard of named Gamble and Huff.
Both sides of the ultra-rare 1967 Capitol single ‘He’s Qualified’ and ‘Face Up To The Truth’ make their CD bow here. After that release, Doris decamped to England, again becoming the go-to girl for background vocals on classic hits for Dusty Springfield, George Harrison, Pink Floyd and the Stones, to name a few. In cahoots with Harrison, she released a brilliant LP on Apple in 1970, represented on this disc by ‘Ain’t That Cute’ and ‘You Tore Me Up Inside’.
Two definite high points are 1974’s Dandy Livingstone-produced reggae-inflected romp through Eddie Floyd’s ‘Don’t Tell Your Mama’ and a sparkling disco workout from 1977, ‘Can’t Hold On’, both new to CD. By this time, Doris had moved back to the States where she eventually starred in the musical based on her life, Mama I Want To Sing, written by her sister, New York radio luminary Vy Higgensen. The sisters are heard on a high-spirited duet released here for the first time anywhere.
Doris’ final recording was for Ace in 1996 – ‘Hear Me Calling’, a duet with British blue-eyed soul wunderkind James Hunter. Doris’ heartfelt, gut-wrenching reading of the gospel standard ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ provides a poignant and powerful coda to a poignant and powerful collection.
The customary worth-the-price booklet includes rare photos and cuttings, remembrances from friends and colleagues Ady Croasdell and David Nathan, and Mick Patrick’s biographical essay drawing from a previously unpublished 1995 interview with Mama Soul herself. If you’ve only given just one look to Doris Troy, “I’ll Do Anything: The Doris Troy Anthology 1960-1996” is a golden opportunity to rectify that oversight.
By Dennis Garvey