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Billy Eckstine – 1972 – Senior Soul

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A well-titled set not only given Billy’s age, but also because of the surprisingly soulful undercurrent to the record – an extension into the genre even greater than Eckstine’s previous recordings for Motown – and proof that he was really trying to stretch out towards new audiences at the time! Artie Butler handled the backings, and he uses a groove that’s pretty full, but never overwhelming – more ebullient soul than some of Eckstine’s more familiar jazz – with backing vocals and bright horns, yet still plenty of space for Billy to do his thing. The best numbers have Eckstine coming across with the 70s cool of Grady Tate on his vocal sides.

A1 I’ll Always Have Faith In You 4:07
A2 A Man Who Sings 3:15
A3 A Song For You 4:36
A4 Thank You For The Moment 4:01
A5 Please Send Me Someone To Love 4:08
B1 Today Was Tomorrow Yesterday 4:21
B2 Don’t Lose Faith In Me Lord 3:13
B3 I Believe In Music 3:15
B4 Living Like A Gypsy 2:41
B5 Something Is Wrong With My Baby 5:23

‘Senior Soul’ is a tongue-in-cheek title, perhaps commenting on the fact that younger record-buyers aren’t interested in older artist (I thik the cover art is also a nice little joke about that). However, the music on ‘Senior soul’ is probably as contemporary as Billy was going to get. It’s very much 70’s gospel-soul with a faint hint of jazz and at times Billy shows he’s not scared to ‘rock out’. It’s an interesting album.

Many of the songs feature brass arrangements, but my favourite is the more stripped-down rocker ‘Today was tomorrow yesterday’, with it’s country-like twang. The whole album is very much gospel, and it covers many styles of gospel, from slower tunes like ‘When there’s something wrong with my baby’ and ‘I’ll always have faith in you’ to more pop-gospel tracks like ‘A man who sings’ to more uptempo pieces which are found in plenty throughout the album.

it is a high-quality album.


Billy Eckstine – 1974 – If She Walked Into My Life

Extremely compelling stuff – and you’ve really got to give Billy credit for reinventing himself like this! The album features Billy’s deep deep voice amidst arrangements by Artie Butler, Jimmy Jones, Mike Melvoin, and Billy Byers – sort of a blend of Grady Tate sophisti-jazz, and Scott Walker baroque, with a moody mellow sound that would make either of them proud. 

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