Al Wilson – 1968 – Searching For The Dolphins (plus 1974 – La La Peace Song)

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Rip, research and review by Bac

Posting & additional info’s by Nikos

A wonderful early album from soul singer Al Wilson – a well-crafted mix of modes that really stands out in late 60s pop – and which showed that Al was quite different than most of his contemporaries! The album’s got some very hip production by Johnny Rivers – who was really stretching out his own sound at the time – and arrangements are by Gene Page and Marty Paich, who create a sublime blend of jazz, soul, and strings – plus a slight undercurrent of more righteous modes from the late 60s post-folk underground! In addition to straighter soul, Wilson sings a mix of hip contemporary compositions by Fred Neil, Jimmy Webb, and others – showing a depth of sound that’s really wonderful. Instrumentation’s by a small combo that includes Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and some especially great flute from Jim Horn – whose sound here really brings some dark moments to the record. Titles include a classic version of Oscar Brown Jr’s “The Snake” – which has gone onto become something of a dancefloor stormer over the years

Tracks
A1
The Dolphins 3:41
A2
By The Time I Get To Phoenix 3:15
A3
I Stand Accused 3:30
A4
Summer Rain 3:42
A5
Do What You Gotta Do 3:34
B1
The Snake 3:32
B2
Who Could Be Lovin’ You (Other Than Me) 3:05
B3
Poor Side Of Town 3:52
B4
Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)3:13
B5
This Guy’s In Love With You 4:13
B6
Brother, Where Are You 3:42

If you expects to listen 10 replics of “The Snake” in this album, you’re wrong. If you expects a mix of Al Green and Jackie Wilson, you’re wrong too.Al Wilson is more than that. In fact, his debut album has much personality and is very far away from the paths commonly trodden by a lot of other artists.

Much more important is the fact that “The Snake” is a rara avis in the entire LP, maybe because the other songs of the record are much more interesting. Of course, “ The Snake” is a masterpiece danced in countless and endless allnighters, but it’s no more than an effective up-tempo, limited in structure and content. Wilson is away from the easy recipe and he works in more dangerous territory. Luckily though, the result is brilliant. Brillant and happy. The Al Wilson songs flow leisurely, with the certainly of the one that knows he’s doing a good job.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix” is exciting. This is a happy meeting between Terry Callier and Scott Walker ; the beginning is better than the Jimmy Webb original, placing Wilson in front of Isaac Hayes singing this song (it’s the same in “I Stand Accused”, -sorry Hayes, this time you have a tough opponent) Wilson is shinnes especially when he creates a dialogue amoung the flute, the acustic guitar or the piano. It is in these moments when we can perceive the authentic artist, with spectacular strings arrangements (“The Dolphins” or “This Guy’s In Love With You” are good examples).“Brother, Where are you” is a song similar to “The Snake”, but much better for me ; it’s probably less danceable, but richer in details and nuances.

Make no mistake, It’s in the contents and the delayed pace that Al Wilson proves his strength, rather than in the tempo or the volume. This strength is much more difficult to get in this way, but if you succeed it’s very pleasant and enjoyable.

Searching for the Dolphins is a record to listen to when you are sad and would like to enjoy your depression a little longer, but it’s so a record to listen to when you’re happy, and take pleasure in the joy of happiness. It’s a record to enjoy.

Buy it, wrap it and give it to someone you love. Life is also made of these little moments.


Bonus

A mix of southern soul and smooth 70s pop soul from Al Wilson – one of a few great LPs from Al in the early-to-mid 70s! Most of the tracks are arranged by HB Barnum, save for a few that were arranged by Jerry Long and produced by Steve Cropper. Johnny Bristol handled the title cut “La La Peace Song”, which is a killer little groover that has that sweet smooth feel that you’d hear in some of Johnny’s own work from the time. Nice, nice stuff!

Tracks
A1
La La Peace Song 3:22
A2
A Stones Throw 3:04
A3
Medley: I Won’t Last A Day Without You/Let Me Be The One 5:52
A4
Goin’ Through The Motions 3:16
A5
Passport 2:37
B1
I’m A Weak Man 3:24
B2
Fifty-Fifty 3:08
B3
The Longer We Stay Together 4:58
B4
Willoughby Brook 3:43
B5
You’re The One Thing (Keeps Me Goin’)3:07  

Six years passed after Al Wilson’s remarkable first album; six years characterized by moments of silence, big successes like “Show and Tell and other brilliant song. A lot things happened but nothing change in the way he makes us feel the true soul music flowing through our veins.

The sound of the record changed, of course, in parallel with the evolution of the soul sound of this time; it used some funk guitars, wurlitzer pianos, and percussions, while the mix and stereo balance became this time less audacious than in Searching for the Dolphins. Backing vocals have an important role in almost every song of the album; they perfectly fit Wilson’s voice and emphasize it with powerful answers as in the best gospel tradition (“The Longer We Stay Together”, “Willoughby Brook” and “You’re the One You Think” are good examples).

 “Passport” is a song that could be a perfect companion for beautiful girls and John Shaft’s. It could be the right soundtrack to a Blaxploitation film with its spectacular wah wah guitars and latin percussions. Another masterpiece that deserves to be better know is the song “Fifty-Fifty” whose the melody hooks you up to the point where you can’t stop humming it.

The Song “La La Peace Song” perfectly summarizes the whole message of the record, a message of peace and search for happiness, something that we have always needed, generation after generation. All I can say is, in these moments of global convulsion, we need more Al Wilson in our lives!

Download link

You can also enjoy his 1973 “Show and Tell” LP  in our back pages here.

Buy the AlbumAl Wilson – 1968 – Searching For The Dolphins (plus 1974 – La La Peace Song)

Free Download AlbumAl Wilson – 1968 – Searching For The Dolphins (plus 1974 – La La Peace Song)

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27 Comments
  • rich
    Posted at 21:07h, 17 May 2012 Reply

    thanx nikos and bac

  • straight back
    Posted at 21:47h, 17 May 2012 Reply

    hi all, sorry for offtop, please help me – i can’t find the LP, but remember – on cover all group stayin in water – i hope that’s was a soul group (not a solo singer). I nned a cover pls. Thx alot

  • Nikos
    Posted at 21:50h, 17 May 2012 Reply
  • straight back
    Posted at 21:58h, 17 May 2012 Reply

    yes!! THX!!

  • Adam Davie
    Posted at 03:57h, 18 May 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the album. I really like Al Wilson’s music.

  • zobba
    Posted at 13:48h, 18 May 2012 Reply

    thanks

  • Tom
    Posted at 19:59h, 18 May 2012 Reply

    An underrated singer. Both albums are fine.

  • William
    Posted at 10:38h, 19 May 2012 Reply

    Great voice singing with real soul & feeling. Voices of this calibre are few & far between nowadays. Thanks!

  • Phiily_Soul
    Posted at 19:00h, 19 May 2012 Reply

    Great LP guys, thanks for the upload. Had this on vinyl for years, so good to get the chance to have it digitally too. Discovered Al Wilson via the Northern scene, but this LP goes way beyond that. Sublime vocals all over it. Your taste is impeccable as ever. Cheers

  • Manonthemoon
    Posted at 21:45h, 19 May 2012 Reply

    Outstanding performer! Introduce this kind of music to your children and grand children….

  • Zoao
    Posted at 15:32h, 20 May 2012 Reply

    Though nener heard it before, I really enjoyed both of them.

  • Wess
    Posted at 13:57h, 21 May 2012 Reply

    Sweet memories of my teen years, I wish I could go back to 70’s.

  • Miray
    Posted at 04:55h, 22 May 2012 Reply

    We need more songs like this…so beautiful and uplifting!

    Check out my latest Sweet ‘n’ Soulful debut single at http://mirayholic.com

  • Iris
    Posted at 08:32h, 22 May 2012 Reply

    Great sound keep them coming

  • Luigi
    Posted at 20:41h, 22 May 2012 Reply

    Amazing post. Love it.

  • Roy
    Posted at 12:32h, 23 May 2012 Reply

    Wonderful music. thank you.

  • Donovan
    Posted at 22:27h, 23 May 2012 Reply

    I still have this record in my collection. Great to hear again!!!..Superb!

  • Truth
    Posted at 06:17h, 24 May 2012 Reply

    Is there a reason I can’t download this? You click on the link to DL and it goes to a blank page

  • Nikos
    Posted at 08:28h, 24 May 2012 Reply

    Everything looks fine now. please try again.

  • Martin
    Posted at 08:49h, 24 May 2012 Reply

    Pretty damn sweet, thanks much.

  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 04:28h, 26 May 2012 Reply

    Cool! And thx for the RS link !!! One question : isn’t it about time to start ripping vinyls into FLAC instead of mp3? Cheers.

  • Waren
    Posted at 09:24h, 28 May 2012 Reply

    Absolutely brilliant! Thanks.

  • Theodore
    Posted at 12:17h, 05 June 2012 Reply

    Great stuff – what I call proper music. Non-threatening, clear and concise and full of life, nothing like the modern day black music.

  • Alain
    Posted at 21:23h, 11 June 2012 Reply

    Wonderful post!

  • Greg
    Posted at 21:49h, 12 June 2012 Reply

    Than k you so much for sharing all this great shit 🙂

  • whoknows
    Posted at 16:10h, 17 June 2012 Reply

    Thanks yall! That track on SOUL TRAIN got my head boppin and my fingers snappin. nice way to start my SUNday!!!

  • thegroove
    Posted at 23:10h, 27 November 2013 Reply

    Thanks Nikos and Bac, for putting a little more Al Wilson in my life.

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