Johnny Adams – 1969 – Heart & Soul
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Of all great singers of southern soul one of the most forgotten is Johnny Adams and this album is his best. Produced by Shelby Singleton for SSS International Records, show the warm, baritone’s voice of Adams in a heartbreakers ballads and raw mid-tempos. Wonderful “Release Me” (compare with the version of Engelbert Humperdinck), “In a Moment of weakness”, “Real live Living Hurtin’ Man” and above all, “Reconsider Me“, one of the great singles of 60’s soul.
A1 Georgia Morning Dew 3:25
A2 In a Moment of Weakness 2:35
A3 Real Live Living Hurtin`Man 3:10
A4 Lonely Man 2:37
A5 I Won`t Cry 2:17
A6 Release Me 2:46
B1 Proud Woman 2:40
B2 I Can`t Be All Bad 3:04
B3 A Losing Battle 2:23
B4 Living on Your Love 1:45
B5 Reconsider Me 3:50
LLBig Easy-born soul singer, Johnny Adams, possessed a magnificent set of pipes – his athletic, gospel-reared voice was rich, resonant and wonderfully expressive – but fate, combining with the perplexing vagaries of the music business, conspired to prevent him from becoming a household name. Adams scored his first Billboard US chart entry for the New Orleans indie RIC as far back as 1962 with the Top 30 R&B smash, ‘A Losing Battle‘ but another six years passed before Adams was able to make another successful foray into the higher reaches of the R&B lists. By then he was signed to entrepreneur Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label based in Nashville. It was while he was with SSS that he scored his biggest smash, ‘Reconsider Me‘, which broke into the R&B Top 10 in the summer of ’69. That fabulous country-infused ballad with its pleading refrain appeared on Adams’ solitary LP for the company, ‘Heart & Soul.
The album kicks off with a magnificent opener, ‘Georgia Morning Dew‘, which marries soul with a distinctive country feel (not surprising given SSS’s Nashville connection). Adams also delivers a brilliant soul-infused performance of the old country hit, ‘Release Me‘, which was an R&B chart-topper for Esther Phillips in 1962 and also a big pop smash for kitsch lounge crooner Engelbert Humperdinck in the UK. As well as striking ballads, there are some strong uptempo numbers on the album – like the funky ‘You Made A New Man Out Of Me‘, originally a non-album flipside, and the propulsive groover, ‘South Side Of Soul Street.’ Sadly, Johnny Adams – who resurfaced as a blues singer in the ’80s and ’90s – died from cancer in 1998 aged 66, thereby depriving the world of one of soul music’s most compelling and passionate male voices. For those who are unfamiliar with the man dubbed ‘the Tan Canary,’ this compilation provides an essential introduction.
Review by Soulmakossa
The Tan Canary, one of Southern Soul’s most overlooked champion, recorded many albums well into the 1990s, but this 1969 offering certainly ranks as Adams’ finest achievement.
There’s a loping, infectious lassitude in the groove to “Georgia Morning Dew“, a lazy, funky soul nugget that has Johnny reminiscing about home. His raspy, full-throttled vocals make their presence felt immediately on this struttin’ opening track.
Equally greasy and funky is the incessantly pounding swamp soul of “In a Moment of Weakness“, featuring country styled slide guitars and a protruding, heavy bass.
Country Soul in fact was Johnny Adams’ forte, and he’s masterful on all-time classics of the genre such as “Reconsider Me” and the intense tour de force “Release Me“.
Lesser known jewels convey the same way-back-over-yonder-downhome southern country vibe, coming in the guise of the lowdown romp “Real Live Livin’ Hurtin’ Man” – again showcasing Adam’s gutbucket, vibrating, soaring vocal skill – and the low-key, haunting ballad “Lonely Man“.
There’s a rollicking Fats Domino drive to the sassy “I Won’t Cry“, with its big brass and New-Orleans piano, but Adams jumps back on the funk express as he launches into the stutter-steppin’ “Proud Woman“.
Proving his versatility even more, Adams surges into hard driving blues-based wailers with “I Can’t Be All Bad” and the especially lamenting “Losing Battle“.
The Tan Canary ends ‘Heart & Soul‘ with a gospelfide, uptempo soul belter; “Living on Your Love” is propelled by a fatback groove and biting electric guitar riffs, and carried by Adams’ incredible, big booming voice.
A Southern Soul classic.