Garland Green has one of those voices that appeals to all lovers of fine music. His popularity in the southern states of the USA, like that of his friend and fellow Chicagoan Tyrone Davis, reflects their Mississippi roots and emotive, expressive voices. Garland’s seminal ‘Jealous Kind Of Fella’ meant so much to music fans of the late 60s era that he is welcome on any R&B concert bill to this day.
He recorded primarily for Revue / Uni, Cotillion, Spring, RCA and Ocean-Front, cutting enough tracks for at least one album with each company; though the Cotillion one has never appeared and the Spring one was fifteen years late. In fact Garland has such a fine canon that we’ve left off a handful of our own, owned, Spring tracks that have been issued elsewhere on Kent CDs and vinyl.
I’d like to highlight the stunning follow-up to ‘Jealous’, ‘Don’t Think That I’m A Violent Guy’. Although it features some highly dubious sentiments, it is a dramatic soul masterpiece, right up there with works like the Persuaders ‘Thin Line Between Love And Hate’. Vivid sound effects, a full orchestra and an emotional mix of menace and affection combine to produce a number that deserves as much appreciation as its predecessor.
Drama is an art that Garland does very well. He hit the charts with a reworking of Dee Dee Warwick’s ‘She Didn’t Know (She Just Kept On Talking)’; transcribed into the masculine and Garland’s thoughtful way of conveying the story of this very awkward and upsetting confrontation was adored by fans. Similarly, his Cotillion cut of Tyrone Davis’ hit ‘Just My Way Of Loving You’ features a confidential narrative start. Garland was even chosen for his vocal skills by country artist Jimmy Dean to deliver a black version of his big ‘I. O. U.’ hit.
Garland’s biggest seller at Cotillion was the pretty ‘Plain And Simple Girl’. Unfortunately his career there, and Spring to an extent, was rather disjointed as the labels tried him out with several different producers and styles. Some of these were commercial successes, like ‘Bumping And Stomping’, whereas others such as ‘Sweet Loving Woman’ were critically acclaimed, but sold poorly. We’ve gone for the latter cut here as ‘Bumping’ has been covered elsewhere. The tracks left in the can at Spring and not released until our 1990 Kent LP, were of very high quality. We have included the beautiful ballad ‘Just What The Doctor Ordered’ and the increasingly popular dancer ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’. ‘Come Through Me’ has been available in enough forms to make way for less obvious Garland tracks.
Of the four RCA tracks on the CD, only the in-demand ‘I’ve Quit Running The Streets’ has made it onto CD before; the other three are all fine examples of late 70s soul productions augmenting Garland’s consistently strong vocals. The Ocean-Front LP has been overlooked by some soul fans simply by virtue of its 1980s release date. However it was recorded early enough in that decade so that synthesisers haven’t stamped their inhuman input onto the music and Lamont Dozier’s songs and influence added class to the project.
While fans could argue forever about what onstitutes Garland’s 24 greatest tracks, this compilation, with sleeve-notes from Chicago soul expert Robert Pruter, is definitely going to be the closest we ever come to it.
By Ady Croasdell