Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Unsung Arthur Alexander

When your songs are covered by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan, you must have made it big, right? You would think so, but not for Arthur Alexander. Arthur first started writing and recording songs in the early 60's, a decade where black musicians were still struggling to gain an equal footing in the music industry as their white counterparts. Like many blacks trying to get into the music biz, Arthur started out performing gospel music at age 16 with a group called the Heartstrings. From there he journeyed into the pop realm writing country and R&B songs, some of which he performed and others that were used by many other musicians, including the big names above. Unfortunately, Arthur never got his due and eventually faded from the stage into obscurity.

All that changed in 1993 though when Elektra Records persuaded Arthur to take a break from driving a bus to record an album that got almost instant attention titled Lonely Just Like Me. Rolling Stone described the record as "stunning," and NPR's Fresh Air program invited Arthur in for a live-in-studio concert (which is included on the re-release via HackTone Records which is coming out September 25th). Unfortunately, within days of its initial release in 1993, Arthur passed away, and the album and his music were forgotten again. Until now that is.

HackTone records has brought the album back and has included the NPR performance (which includes some wonderful commentary by Arthur about his music and his career) as well as some previously unreleased demos he made in a Cleveland hotel room. The re-release is titled Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter and is scheduled to be out September 25th. Try the following for a taste of a musician that you've probably never heard of, but have probably heard his songs. The first track is from the originally released 1993 version; the other two are from the NPR recording added to the re-release.

Arthur Alexander - Every Day I Have To Cry : Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter

Arthur Alexander - "I think that's how they heard me" (intro to You Better Move On) : Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter

Arthur Alexander - You Better Move On (Live On Fresh Air) : Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter

Visit his label HackTone Records, and on MySpace.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! Can't say enough about this talented artist or the book that so deftly tells his story. Get a Shot of Rhythm and Blues: The Arthur Alexander Story, by Richard Younger is a must for anyone wanting to know more about this artist.

Sean said...

Thanks anon. Here's the link to check out the book for everyone.