Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Soul - Jimmy Hughes

There are some albums that are just so powerful, or historical, or just plain amazing, that it takes me a little while to muscle up the nerve to try and tackle writing a post about them. I'm just nervous that I'll do the album a disservice by not adequately covering it and losing the chance to turn people on to it because I did a crappy job. The Best of Jimmy Hughes fits into all three of those categories: powerful, historical, and amazing.

Jimmy Hughes' name has sunk out of the collective consciousness, even though he was one of the earliest stars of southern soul music. Originally a gospel singer (as many of the early soul singers were brought up as), Hughes turned to secular music after being inspired by Arthur Alexander, another unsung star of early soul music. After seeing the fruits of Alexander's early success and his driving around town in a Cadillac, Hughes said to himself, "I'm gonna go get me one of those too." The result: Hughes signed up with FAME studios.

His story is tied to that of FAME Recording Studios, which was founded in 1959, and home of the Muscle Shoals Sound. Although Stax gets the lion share of respect and props for generating the southern counterpart to what Motown was doing in Detroit, FAME was just as important in its day. Originally opened only as a recording studio, its doors welcomed such distinguished artists such as Wilson Picket, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin at various points in its hey-day. In 1964, Rick Hall (its owner) also started the FAME record label, and Jimmy Hughes' Steal Away was its first release and its first hit (hear it below).

And now, FAME is releasing its first catalog collection in over thirty years: The Best of Jimmy Hughes. The compilation includes all seven of Hughes' FAME hits, and sixteen of the eighteen tracks on the album are seeing their first ever digital release. Also included on the CD are two MP3s recorded recently with all the players from FAME studios who were involved in the 60's and 70's talking about their recollections. It's really historically amazing stuff, so make sure to listen to them (warning: they won't show up in a music player - you need to find the actual files on the disc yourself). If everything goes as planned, this will be the first of many re-issues from the studio of material that's been languishing in obscurity for too long.

As a side note, Jimmy Hughes would later go on to record with Volt Records (a subsidiary label of Stax), and release five singles between 1968 and 1971 before choosing to retire from the music industry. The first, I Like Everything About You, you can listen to below.

and one from his Volt years:

Visit Fame Studios' website and become Jimmy's friend on MySpace.


1 comment:

mrs.sound said...

Jimmy Hughes is one of the greatest.