Lover's Prayer The Wallace Brothers


Southern Soul
Catalogue Id:

It took me a long time to find out whether Wallace Brothers was more than one person.Let me explain. You see back in the 1960s, singles on Sue Records (Island's R&B and soul subsidiary) used to come in a cheery red-and-white sleeve which bore the names of most of the artists who had releases on the label. The first one I bought was Night Train by James Brown and, as I listened, I gazed mystified and enthralled at the esoteric list on the sleeve. Some names were familiar to a 16-year old grammar school boy: Betty Everett, John Lee Hooker and Ike & Tina Turner, but others were total blanks. Had Sue Records' boss Guy Stevens invented Roscoe Shelton, The Daylighters and Wilbert Harrison or did they really exist?Then there was, or were, Wallace Brothers. As there was another artist on the sleeve called Harold Botters, could Wallace Brothers be one person (like Wallace Beery) rather than a sibling group? As my local record shop lacked stock of the Sue singles, I had no opportunity at the time to find out.Moving to Birmingham as a student, I began to discover the magical music on such mysterious labels as Blue Horizon (then a tiny indie), Giant and Fab. I was greatly assisted in this exploration by the staff at The Diskery in Hurst Street. An Aladdin's Cave, the long, narrow and cluttered shop had a ceiling almost entirely covered with old LP sleeves and a comprehensive stock that included Sun rock'n'roll singles, Blue Note jazz albums and all those little labels that ticked over unseen by the public at large.Once they realised that I was there to spend money, though not too much on my student grant, Diskery staff Jim and Erskine would do a boogaloo along the singles shelves whenever I walked in, thrusting into my hand a half dozen excitingly unknown 45s. "Go upstairs and listen to those" they would say and up the creaky flight of stairs I'd go to their half-hidden listening booths. In those booths I first discovered and fell in love with the music of Elmore James, The Techniques, Aaron Neville and Wallace Brothers.The latter's Precious Words confirmed there were indeed two voices, two soulful young voices, but this wasn't the glossily-produced soul of Motown nor the funky-sock-it-hitch-it-to-the-dog of Atlantic and Stax. These singers were desolate, primitive, close to the edge: their backing group featured a funeral-parlour organ and a deliciously out-of-tune piano. The song plodded along for two minutes and twenty seconds, sounding as if it had been recorded in a church broom cupboard, before expiring with a sigh. I left the shop 7s 5d poorer and one record richer.I later bought their other two Sue singles, their Sue LP and one of their Jewel 45s in Dave Godin's Soul City shop. As time went on I forgot about them, but they nestled safely in my collection where they remain to this day, treasured but rarely played.Then when John Broven mentioned to me that Ace was assembling a Wallace Brothers CD, I rooted them out, played them and my spine tingled just as it had 27 years before in The Diskery. To make all of their Sims recordings available on one disc is a brave move commerically and a service to Southern soul fans everywhere.One thing that John told me is that the "brothers" were actually cousins Ervin Wallace and Johnny Simon. So nearly thirty years after I first saw their name, I'm still not sure whether there ever was more than one real Wallace Brother.(Mike Atherton)-Mike Atherton is a freelance contributor to Echoes and Blues & Rhythm.


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Side 1

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