Ah, the joy of vinyl – especially the new Ace Records high quality releases. The 180 gram test pressing landed on my desk with a thump and, once placed on the deck, the needle was placed on the first groove with a satisfying thrum. So you can only imagine how much better the experience got as the sound of Fame’s classic house band of David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett and Roger Hawkins emerged from the speakers. They were behind George Jackson as he demonstrated the power of a new song he had written. Any fan of Southern Soul will know that ‘I’m Just A Prisoner’ became a classic for Candi Staton but, as we have proved time and again over the last few years, George Jackson was more than capable of delivering his own songs.
Mississippi-born, George had his first break in music working alongside Dan Greer at Goldwax Records in Memphis, writing songs and releasing a single in a duet with Dan. In 1967 he auditioned at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, where proprietor Rick Hall was looking to replace his top writer Dan Penn, who had moved to Memphis the previous year. In George, Rick found someone who not only wrote prolifically but could sing as well. As an artist, George released two singles on the Fame label and one more Fame-recorded side on Verve. However, it is quite likely that no-one wanted him to be too successful in that role, because his songs were far too important for Fame’s star artists and others who passed through the studio looking for some Muscle Shoals magic. In short order, he wrote hits for Candi Staton, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter and then turned out a #1 for the Osmonds.
However, George wrote more songs than he could place with other artists and he also recorded non-stop. Over two CD volumes we have showcased his Fame recordings and we are now proud to present you with his first ever vinyl album from these sessions. In the style of a classic late 60s or early 70s soul album, it features 12 stunning tracks, two of which are (for now) exclusive to this release. It’s difficult to pick out favourites but I have a lot of time for ‘I Bit Off More Than I Can Chew’ (which we’ve discovered was written with James Govan in mind) and ‘Get It When I Want It’, another track written for Candi Staton. Of the new tracks, ‘Add A Little Sunshine’ and ‘That From The Heart’ are more than worthy additions to the George Jackson canon.
By Dean Rudland