Dorothy Moore – 1976 – Misty Blue
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A pivotal moment in the development of southern soul – as the album was one of the first really big hits to come out of the growing Malaco scene in Jackson, Mississippi. The style of the record is a mix of older female southern soul styles, plus some of the warmer mellow production that was coming out of the Alston/Miami scene at the same time. And although Malaco mostly moved into cheesy blues during the early 80s, this one’s very much in a popular crossover soul style.
a1 The Only Time You Ever Say You Love Me 3:31
a2 Dark End Of The Street 2:50
a3 Funny How Time Slips Away 3:48
a4 Laugh It Off 3:08
a5 Misty Blue 3:38
b1 Enough Woman Left (To Be Your Lady) 3:02
b2 I Don’t Wamt To Be With Nobody But You 4:12
b3 Ain’t That A Mother’s Luck 3:17
b4 Too Much Love 3:22
b5 It’s So Good 2:28
Review by By TheNoomz83
The bicentennial-year (1976) Southern soul ballad, “Misty Blue,” by Jackson, Mississippi’s Dorothy Moore for the Jackson, Mississippi Malaco label was and is significant in a number of ways. For one thing, its success most likely saved Malaco Records from going under financially at that time — and here we are, 38 years later, and they’re still going strong. For another, the single, “Misty Blue,” occupies a unique place in American music-business history: besides being the biggest hit single ever for Malaco, it is THE BIGGEST SOUTHERN SOUL BALLAD OF ALL TIME BY A FEMALE ARTIST ON THE NATIONAL POP CHARTS. In addition to its two weeks at #2 on the Billboard soul chart, it spent four weeks at #3 in the Hot 100 and two weeks at #3 pop in Cash Box, where it had a 25-week chart run. It also reached #14 easy listening; and after being picked up by the Britain’s Contempo label, it got to #5 pop in the UK. The record earned Dorothy Moore a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rhythm & Blues Performance (which she should have won by a mile, in my opinion). The record was an anomaly: a sixties-style soul ballad at a time when the greater music-buying public had lost interest in this type of music in favor of dance-funk and disco. Furthermore, “Misty Blue” was a ten-year-old country song — a country-chart hit for both Wilma Burgess and Eddy Arnold in ’66 and ’67, respectively. Virtually a clone (arrangement-wise) of the original soul single version of the song by Joe Simon, which only barely made it into the soul-chart top 50 four years earlier, Malaco founder and producer, Tommy Couch, tried and failed to get the Dorothy Moore cover picked up by a major label before finally issuing it on his own imprint. He believed he had a great record on his hands and refused to just give up despite the overwhelming odds. I had the Joe Simon record but instantly sensed there was something even more moving and special about the song when touched by the warm and deeply soulful contralto of Ms. Moore’s. I was amazed and gratified that a record like this could gain universal acceptance at that time, swimming against the commercial tide.
The “Misty Blue” LP was skillfully assembled around “Misty Blue” by Tommy Couch and his crew, featuring Malaco’s exceptionally talented musicians, terrific female background vocalists, as well as stellar string and horn arrangements by New Orleans stalwart, Wardell Quezergue. For the second single, they went with another revival of an old country hit, Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” which had been remade into a sensational #1 soul smash a dozen years earlier by Joe Hinton. This “Misty Blue” follow-up hit all the same charts again, doing particularly well soul [#7], but placing much lower on the others. The LP itself made it to a respectable #29 pop and top ten soul. It’s a very solid Southern soul album that sounds more like the turn of the ’70s than the second half of the decade, which is all to the good, I would say. Phillip Mitchell’s “The Only Time You Ever Say You Love Me” and Eddie Floyd’s (the ultra-talented former Stax soul man having just come aboard at Malaco) “I Don’t Want to Be with Nobody but You” (featuring Dorothy Moore’s introductory rap) are masterpieces of the genre. The 1967 James Carr deep-soul classic, “Dark End of the Street” (penned by Dan Penn and Chips Moman) gets an unexpectedly funky, midtempo treatment while still managing to deliver the emotional goods. For full-fledged funk in support of a real woman’s testifying tune, it doesn’t get more downhome than “Ain’t That a Mother’s Luck“, with its smokin’ hot horns and soul-cookin’ chorus. Providing some additional variety are the two songwriting contributions by Malaco keyboard ace, Carson Whitsett: the sophisticated, melodic pop ballad, “Laugh It Off” (kind of a throwback to Dionne Warwick in the ’60s) and this 1976 LP’s only concession to disco, “Enough Woman Left (To Be Your Lady).” Unsurprisingly, the latter, despite being well performed, hasn’t aged well. Dorothy Moore certainly could have made it as a disco diva, but I’m glad she didn’t take that route; instead, she emerged from that era with her artistic integrity fully in tact.
The Big Break/Cherry Red reissue sounds great and comes with a very attractive ten-page booklet that contains full-page color photo reproductions of all the cover art for both the LP and the two singles, along with record label repros of both sides of the latter. There are four pages of informative, well-written, brand-new liner notes by music writer and historian (an expert on the 1970s), Steven E. Flemming, Jr.; plus, complete musical credtis are included. This is a highly worthwhile CD, beyond any doubt. This “expanded edition”‘s sole bonus track is “Misty Blue”‘s B-side (making its first appearance on CD), the King Floyd (a Malaco artist)funk-‘n-soul tune from 1973, “Here It Is.”
(Included in a bonus file along with more Moore’s singles)