Friday, October 16, 2020

The Hi Records Story


After finishing the Al Green bio that had a fairly extensive history if Hi Records included I wanted to hear more from the artists featured on this Memphis label. There are a few compilations around, but this was reasonably priced and seemed to encapsulate a good number of the musicians.

The Bill Black Combo was a 50's instrumental band and the music is somewhat similar to the likes of Bill Doggett and others from that time period - kinda swingin, bachelor pad-styled tunes. From there we get Ace Cannon's sax groove, "Tuff", Murray Kellum's doo-wop number "Long Tall Texan", the soul stirrin' "20-75" by Willie Mitchell (who would end up producing many of the Hi Records hits), Jumpin' Gene Simmons' classic 50's R'n'B "Haunted House", the Motown-ish "Love Is After Me" (Charlie Rich), Jerry Jaye doin' a rockin' take on Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine", Willie Mitchell returns for "Soul Serenade", Ann Pebbles does a fabulously funky job on "Part Time Love" and then there's a couple smash hits from Hi's biggest star, the smooth soul serenade singer Al Green - "Tired Of Being Alone" and "Let's Stay Together".

Ann Pebbles comes back for the terrifically lascivious "(I Feel Like) Breaking Up Somebody's Home", George Jackson gives us the soulful breakup/makeup number, "Aretha, Sing One For Me", followed by another Green masterpiece, "I'm Still In Love With You", then Otis Clay's upbeat-but-depressing dance number "Trying To Live My Life Without You", Quiet Elegance lives up to the name in the powerful, painful ballad "You've Got My Mind Messed Up", Pebbles appears again for "I Can't Stand the Rain", Syl Johnson grooves in "Back For a Taste Of Your Love", Phillip Mitchell gets soulful in "Turning Over the Ground", Otis Clay is back for the love-lost ballad "It Was Jealousy", Syl Johnson does a fine job on Green's "Take Me To The River", Jean Plum sings sweetly in "Look At the Boy" and the proceedings conclude with OV Wright's won brand of soul in "Precious, Precious".

If you're a soul music fan then you should know many of these artists already but either way, this is a fine comp and a hip representation of this swingin' label.


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