Like several of his 60s peers, Arthur Conley’s career was damned by the success of one record – in his case, ‘Sweet Soul Music’. For many on the periphery of soul music, that song was the beginning and the end of Arthur’s career and overexposure may have coloured their judgement of quality of the other records he made before and after it. Happily, the soul hardcore has always been able to see beyond a hit and Arthur has long been a hero to collectors for the kind of music that makes up this great new Kent compilation
“I’m Living Good” showcases a side of Arthur’s catalogue those familiar with his funky dancefloor favourites don’t always know – that of a Premier League deep soul man. Not every track is down-tempo, but each one is a representation of Southern Soul at its most forthright and creative. If you only know, say, ‘Sweet Soul Music’ or ‘Funky Street’, it will be a revelatory experience.
We have left no stone unturned in our attempts to bring you 100% top quality Conley. Almost every phase of the man’s solo career is represented, over a span of almost 10 years across the Ru-Jac, Jotis, Fame, Atco and Capricorn labels. These tracks were produced by Otis Redding, Booker T Jones and Stax boss Jim Stewart, Rick Hall, Tom Dowd, Johnny Sandlin, Clarence Carter and Swamp Dogg – which itself is all the qualification anyone should need as to their superiority. Many are being reissued here for the first time.
Highlights abound, from both sides of the ultra-rare Ru-Jac 45 (of which there are less than five documented copies) to the intense ‘If He Walked Today’, previously only available on a South African LP and 45. Those who turn their 45s over will not need to be sold on the virtues of ‘Let’s Go Steady’, ‘Love Comes And Goes’, ‘Put Our Love Together’ or ‘Is That You Love’, which were all first released as flips to massive club hits. My favourites include ‘Otis Sleep On’, an emotional salute to Arthur’s then-recently demised mentor and chief career booster Mr Redding, and the wonderful ‘Walking On Eggs’, one of the best examples of a Swamp Dogg song (and title!) ever to find its way out of the ever-active brain of Jerry Williams Jr. Really, though, this is a CD you can pluck anything from and come up with a winner.
As always, we’ve gone to town on the booklet, which contains label shots and picture sleeves from all over the world and previously unpublished photos taken inside FAME studios in the 60s and London in the early 70s. Even those who already have some of these tracks on the CD issues of Arthur’s albums will find plenty to get excited about here. The overdue public reappraisal of this important soul brother begins here. Do you like good music? Yeah, yeah!
By Tony Rounce