THE OVATIONS: Complete Sounds Of Memphis (Label: Kent)

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THE OVATIONS: Complete Sounds Of Memphis

This is Kent’s third Ovations’ collection and it’s made up of all the tracks from the splendid trio’s two Sounds Of Memphis albums – ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ and ‘Having A Party’. The underrated outfit were something of a soul oddity for a number of reasons; chief being the fact that they operated in and around Memphis, where chest-beating, love-tortured solo singers (male and female) were the order of the day. Secondly, in lead singer Louis Williams they possessed the most accurate Sam Cooke sound-alike ever to commit to tape and the group and their various management teams were quick to exploit William’s remarkable voice. Indeed the Ovations’ biggest hit was a medley of Cooke songs put out under the title ‘Having A Party’ and the track gave its name to the band’s 1973 album. That LP also boasts two more Cooke classics – ‘You Send Me’ and ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’. There’s also a tribute to Paul Williams, the Temptation who’d died as the album was being recorded. The tribute is a rather cluttered version of the Tempt’s ‘Don’t Look Back’ – one of the few songs to feature Williams on lead. That and the revisiting of those Cooke classics make much of the album sound like a Williams’ solo project; the earlier (1972) ‘Hooked On A Felling’ LP is more of an ensemble piece with tight, soothing harmonies provided by William Young and Nathan Lewis. Again though, the Sam Cooke influence is palpable with the inclusion of ‘Touch The Hem Of His Garment’ – Cooke’s most famous recording with the Soul Stirrers. Elsewhere ‘Take It From One Who Knows’ and ‘Touching Me’ are unnerving Cooke pastiches. Less Cooke-inspired are ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ (covered in the UK by the despicable Jonathan King), ‘One In A Million’ and ‘So Nice To Be Loved By You’ which all show a sweeter, smoother side to Memphis soul. Indeed the whole collection will surprise those who consistently associate Memphis with those aforementioned chest-beating, love-tortured solo stars.
(BB) 4/5