Freddie North – 1971 – Friend
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Rip and research by Mr.Moo
Review by Soulmakossa
Posting & additional info’s by Nikos
Freddie North, a superb singer with a great, smokey, baritone voice, will forever be linked to his biggest hit, the all-time soul smash “She’s All I Got“, the brooding, lamenting country-soul dirge from the pens and minds of two Soul geniuses, Gary U.S. Bonds and Jerry ‘Swamp Dogg‘ Williams.
But North had been around: he had already cut a now highly sought after Southern Soul disc for the Abet label in 1970 (‘The Magnetic North‘) and had been a record pusher for years himself.
He cut two albums for Swamp Dogg; the stupendously rare ‘Cuss the Wind‘ in 1975, and the album in question here, which, in my opinion, is one mightily overlooked juggernaut of superior Soul.
A1 She’s All I Got 2:39
A2 Raining On A Sunny Day 3:36
A3 Sweeter Than Sweetness 3:01
A4 Sidewalks Fences And Walls 2:54
A5 I Did The Woman Wrong 2:42
B1 Yours Love 3:00
B2 Laid Back And Easy 2:29
B3 You And Me Together Forever 3:12
B4 Ain’t Nothing In The News (But The Blues) 2:46
B5 Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long) 3:07
A side the big hit “She’s All I Got“, there’s plenty to groove on here. In fact, it’s the bittersweet, lightly arranged, brooding ballad “Raining on a Sunny Day” that is the prime cut. North’s earthy vocal, tied to a slow grinding beat and shimmering violins equals bliss…
But the man could get down and boogie as hard as the rest of ’em as well. The rocking “Sweeter Than Sweetness“, with its blaring horns and incessant country barn stompin’ rhythm and the blazingly funky socio-political “Ain’t Nothing in the News (But the Blues” are proof of that.
Nonetheless, when he gets in that ‘Brook Benton Gutbucket Style’-bag, the results are goosebump inducing: the incredibly gorgeous ballad “Sidewalks, Fences and Walls” just oozes melancholy. Swamp Dogg’s in his element here with the flourishing strings, country-soul guitar fills and quirky chord progressions
The same goes for “You and Me Together Forever“, another tastefully arranged (French horns!) love song that demonstrates just how powerful a singer Freddie actually was.
Then there are those delicious mid-tempo waxings: the horn heavy, introspective “I Did the Woman Wrong“, the bluesy “Yours Love” and the super funky “Laid Back and Easy“, which carries a groove that’s as thick as molasses.
A cover of Whitehead‘s gently rollicking “Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long?)” keeps the album’s general mood blue but in the groove (again Swamp Dogg adds some great strings, which never gets syruppy or over-the-top) and is the perfect finish to this coherent, warm, BRILLIANT record.
Currently available on a twofer with Z.Z. Hill’s ‘The Brand New Z.Z. Hill’, where North’s album is included whole, along with two bonus tracks; “Cuss the Wind” and the devastating “My Whole World Ended (When You Left Me)”.
Don’t miss his 2nd Swamp Dogg 1975 LP “Cuss the Wind” on our back pages here