Charles Wilson - Troubled Child
I am optimistic when I read the track list of a CD and see a wide variety of composers credited. You’ll find songs here by entrepreneur/hustler Don Robey, vocalist Denise LaSalle, and George Jackson, a writer from Malaco’s organization. I notice, too, Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” in the #7 slot. Very promising.
If your tastes run to Tyrone Davis, Joe Hinton, and pre-1970 Don Covay you will delight in this disc. The production is Philadelphia smooth but still has intensity. Wilson is a skilled vocalist, persuasive and real. It is said that he is the nephew of Little Milton. He has the goods to ensure that’s believable.
Starting point is “Where My Baby Went,” a song associated with Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. It’s way cleaner than any Duke recording and way smoother, but it’s a tasty track. Genuine Soul Music. Slip into the zone, this is the style and texture of the disc from front-to-back.
Up 2nd is “Someone Must Have Taught You,” composed by Wilson’s bassist, Steve Gomes. The turn of the phrase is thoughtful—“Someone must have taught you to not trust a man.” Good song, well done. By the way, if the Martians invaded and asked for an explanation of what Soul Music is, this could be the perfect model. The bass, the two guitars, the lead trumpet, all brilliant, precision playing.
“It’s Love That Really Counts” is a little faster and features a pedal-point bass line, a great church-derived musical device ("Higher and Higher,” “Gimme Some Lovin’,” the verse of “What Is Hip?”). This is like the preceding track, a perfect model of what Soul Music is all about.
At 4th position stands “I Want to Shout About It.” Gomes appears as a co-writer on this It’s another better-than-average song.
Track #5 is “Somebody’s Tears” and has a note attached that says it’s a tribute to Little Milton. I can say that I’m certain that wherever he is, Milton approves. It was written by Denise LaSalle, who knows how to write a good song. The arrangement is a nod to Milton as well. The guitar soloist is even using the same or similar model six-string that Milton employed. This is thoughtful and is probably the key to a Blues fans acquisition of this R&B document.
When one considers the songwriting skills these next two are fantastic and for different reasons. "Troubled Child” could be something written by the masterful Curtis Mayfield in 1972. It’s a cogent statement, well formed and nicely arranged. In the global village I could hear this fine song covered by fifty different artists [except of course, the Linda Ronstadt of the new millennium, Sheryl Crow].
When I mentioned Don Covay at the beginning, I should have also included Bobby Womack. The approach used on Bob Marley’s “Is This Love?” summons both to mind. A good song can be measured by the number of ways it can be interpreted. This rendition underlines that. There’s no Reggae present, it’s R&B, all R&B. Points to the arranger as well as to Wilson for his vocal interpretation.
George Jackson, solid craftsman of song, wrote “I Don’t Want to Take a Chance.” All that’s needed is a male vocal trio in harmony and this is the Spinners. More solid Soul Music. Classic hook and perfect bass line. Excellent delivery by Wilson.
There are two more tracks, but I know you understand. If you like a feast of solid Soul put this in the player. If you don’t understand, go find 25 Temptations tracks, 15 by the Four Tops, 10 by Jackie Wilson, 35 by Otis Redding, 8 by Brook Benton, 12 by O.V.Wright and ask me for further suggestions after that
Reviewer John Harrelson has been playing Blues since 1965 and worked in virtually every genre of music; Folk, Country, Jazz, R&B and Rock. He holds a Ph.D in Historical Musicology from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology. www.johnharrelson.com