The R&B star’s surviving 1964-67 King recordings, reissued in their entirety for the first time.
“Unwind Yourself” focuses on the period in Hank Ballard’s long career that has remained relatively under the radar in the CD era. It features every surviving record he made between early 1964 and late 1967, a period during which soul took over from R&B and his King label-mate James Brown spearheaded the funk revolution. Ballard made every effort to remain up-to-date but struggled to get his records heard by a wide audience. Whatever reasons DJs might have had for ignoring them, it surely was not the quality of the records or Ballard’s performances, which are first-rate throughout.
While this collection is aimed primarily at soul and funk fans, there are lots of choice R&B cuts to grab the attention of those who enjoy music of an earlier vintage. The vast majority of the tracks here have never been reissued. All but three are presented in the straight-ahead mono sound of the original King singles and albums. The remaining three are heard in genuine stereo (rather than pesky 2-track, with vocals on one channel and everything else on the other). Featured musicians include Lonnie Mack, Beau Dollar and a host of other Cincinnati notables, not to mention James Brown himself. The CD booklet offers a vast array of original labels, album sleeves and beautiful period photos, some of which have never been seen before.
The loose chronology of the track listing enables the listener to hear how capably Ballard moved with the times, and what a pity it was he didn’t find a newer, younger audience to enjoy these selections in the way earlier fans had relished ‘The Twist’ and ‘Work With Me Annie’.