Friday, 9 April 2010

Talkin' 'bout Jackson


Thinking about Lou Johnson and Burt Bacharach in the previous post leads inevitably to thoughts of Chuck Jackson, another great African American singer whose gospel background helped give an added conviction to the work of Bacharach and David and other Brill Building writers. On an early Beatles questionnaire John Lennon actually names him as his favourite singer. Appropriately, when I won a record token for a letter in Melody Maker about the Beatles, I spent it on a Chuck Jackson LP on the DJM label - an assembly of Scepter/Wand tracks including Any Day Now, I Wake Up Crying and The Breaking Point. How's about this for a track listing, eh?

 1.ANY DAY NOW
2.THE SAME OLD STORY
3.I DON'T WANT TO CRY
4.IN REAL LIFE
5.I WAKE UP CRYING
6.THE BREAKING POINT
7.WHATCHA GONNA SAY TOMORROW
8.GETTING READY FOR THE HEARTBREAK
9.MAKE THE NIGHT A LITTLE LONGER
10.TELL HIM I'M NOT HOME

1 I KEEP FORGETTING
2.I'M YOUR MAN
3.HAND IT OVER
4.SINCE I DON'T HAVE YOU
5.I NEED YOU
6.IF I DON'T LOVE YOU
7.GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT
8.THESE CHAINS OF LOVE
9.SHAME ON ME
10.SOMETHING YOU GOT
There are quite a few CD compilations around of Jackson's material from this period but really I just want the above duplicated exactly - often the way, I find: you get attached to a certain order of tracks, then no matter how good the CD compilation it's a poor substitute because you want the past exactly as it was. The Bacharach number most closely associated with Jackson is Any Day Now; Elvis Presley recorded Any Day Now but added nothing to Jackson's record. Here's the original which, if you haven't heard it, is a treat:



Here'a another I love, now a Northern Soul fave. It could be macho, but it isn't: this is a man in the grip of an absolute passion. I also love what the backing singers are doing, almost as though they are the manifestation of Chuck's feminine side - the vulnerability inherent in his plea. Or something.



Finally in this all-too-brief Jacksonfest, thanks to the riches of youtube one of my all-time fave doo wops, the Del-Vikings, with Chuck singing lead. No getting away from it, this is really Danny Boy (that is, the Londonderry Air) or as near as makes no difference, but who cares - it's a no-holds-barred performance. I got to know this on a horrible fake stereo budget album on the Contour label which once featured in an NME report on supermarket chic, along with a pair of nylon yfronts. Actually, probably less chic than ultra-budget. Here's a badly taken photo of my actual album:


Incidentally, I had assumed the distortion on the recording, especially when he goes all out for it ("But now ... I'm bah-a-a-a-ack") was a byproduct of the fake stereo on my budget album -but assuming the youtube version comes from a better source, not so. Maybe he was overloading the microphone a la June Cheeks, carried away by his passion. Be that as it may, this is an all-time classic, whether you want to call it doo wop or soul:



[youtube version taken down so here is a spotify link if you can access spotify and here is an outtake]

Looking idly through the high recommended spectropop website I came across the sleevenotes for an excellent V/A Bacharach compilation, including some Chuck Jackson sides, with the emphasis on the more soulful side of Bacharach's work. It's the ideal extension of a vinyl original of the same name because extra tracks have been added to what had originally been issued as an LP in the sixties and nothing (as far as I know) taken away. A real oddity is the Isley Brothers' first take on Make It Easy on Yourself with less convincing different lyrics ("Are you lonely by yourself"), different versions of I Don't Know What to Do with Myself utilising the same backing track (ex-Flamingo Tommy Hunt and Big Maybelle).

The compilers say "Unfortunately, the end result was lost amid a wall of Burt Bacharach & Hal David compilations" - and indeed, I only came across it by chance in one of the several CD shops in Berwick Street (near the lamented Cheapo Cheapo Records) which have gone to the wall in the last year or two. I can't even remember the name of the shop but downstairs was a den which had half a wallful of 60s CDs and I had carte blanche from my employer to buy whatever I deemed useful. Happy days. Oh, I still have that privilege - but there are less places to exercise it. Wading through HMV Oxford Circus brings no joy.

Aaanyway, here is the link to the sleevenotes by Mick Patrick and Malcolm Baumgart - and if you come across it, snap it up. It's on the defunct Westside label:
 

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