TOMMY HUNT is a bona-fide Northern soul legend… one of those great old school soul singers who never quite made the major musical league in the States, but who, when their old 60s stuff was “discovered” became canonized wherever Northern soul was the religion.
Charles James Hunt was born in Pittsburgh in 1933 and after a few run ins with the law and the military, he began his musical career in the Five Echoes. He later joined the more famous Flamingos but embarked on a solo career in 1960 signing with New York’s Scepter Records – where Burt Bacharach and Hal David were kind of staff writers. Indeed Hunt was the first to record that duo’s ‘I Just Don’t Know What To With Myself’. Tommy then recorded for Atlantic, Capitol and Dynamo and it was recordings for all those labels that eventually found their way onto the Northern scene… unbeknownst, of course, to Hunt himself.
In 1968 with his US career on the wane, Tommy relocated to Europe and by 1969 he was resident in the UK where he signed to Spark Record who were keen to cash in on the burgeoning Northern soul scene. They had Tommy record an album aimed squarely at the Northern fraternity and the 13 tracker, ‘A Sign Of The Times’, did reasonably well, though some die hard “northerners” questioned its credential and motives. Hunt also recorded a live album at the legendary Wigan Casino and both those long-deleted sets have just won reissue on Shout Records so we can all now make up our own minds about the worth of the music… and, you know, no matter what you think about the motives behind the original recordings, there’s no doubting Tommy Hunt’s vocal mastery… remember, he did once impress a certain Burt Bacharach!
TOMMY HUNT; ‘A Sign Of The Times… The Spark Recordings’ is out now on Shout Records.