So full cycle and we're back to Monday again. The dreaded return to the “coal face”, for the last push before the holidays! Now at times like these I like to lift my mood with some feel good soul and funk, and that brings us to today’s selection. Jackie Wilson’s ‘I Still Love You’ on Brunswick Records is a song that’s I’ve been giving a real hammering lately!
It’s a 45 that had slipped under my soul radar for some time, until my fellow Hook And Slingers, The Popcorn King and Hoppin’ John both started championing this together at our monthly nights. It’s a perfect slice of mood lifting soul and is certainly one for the ‘Air Bass Guitarists’ amongst you! The bouncing bass line duets perfectly with Wilson’s vocals.
Jackie Wilson is my favourite male soul vocalist by a country mile! If you listen to the breakdown around one minute and nine seconds into the track, and again at two minutes and five seconds, you can really appreciate the transitional vocal range that earned him the name ‘Mr Excitement’. Jackie Wilson’s life was fraught with ups and downs, and several notable episodes spring to mind.Born in 1934 in the ‘Motor City’ he turned to singing at an early age with a local group called The Royals. The backbone of which went on after he left to become Hank Ballard And The Midnighters. He went on to join the Dominoes, with whom he had a few hits on King and Federal. Four years later and he went solo in 1957, signing with the Decca subsidory, Brunswick Records.He had an instant hit with ‘Reet Petite’, co-written with Berry Gordy Jnr. After a disagreement over payments, Gordy went his own way and used the money to set up Hitsville USA Studios, which eventually went onto become Motown. Jackie had great success with Brunswick due to him being the only singer on the label at the time. He became a household name because of his immense touring schedule that seemed to propel him further into the limelight.
Things took a down turn at the start of the Sixties, a well known womanizer, Wilson was shot twice by Juanita Jones, one of his girlfriends at the time. He subsequently lost a kidney and doctors were unable to remove the bullets from his body. Thankfully he managed to pull through. Once on the mend, he revived his career with three back-to-back hits, ‘Whispers’, ‘Higher and Higher’ and ‘I Get The Sweetest Feeling’.
Things got bad when his eldest son Jackie Jnr was also shot in 1970. He was killed after an incident involving an argument with neighbours in Detroit.
Wilson carried on cutting 45’s with Brunswick until 1975. He had a massive heart attack whilst performing onstage during the Dick Clark Show. He fell head first to the stage floor and spent the next nine years in a coma unable to speak. Rumour has it that he was continually abused by doctors during this time, and sadly he died on 21 January 1984, aged 49. His family refusing to disclose the final cause of his death.Post humorously inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987,he also had one last hit with a re-release of ‘Reet Petite’.
Although he had a largely successful career at the time, I don’t think that he is as publicly revered as some of the “Soul Greats” and unjustifiably so. With over thirty albums under his belt, we are left with many hidden gems and a voice as soulful as any.