FREDDIE NORTH: What Are You Doing To Me (Kent)

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Freddie North (born Frederick Carpenter in Nashville in 1939) was a fine Southern soul singer who never quite made it into the genre’s major leagues. Nevertheless, blessed with a mellifluous Jerry Butler style baritone he found regular work in and around Nashville. In his time he recorded for labels like University, Capitol, East West, Philips and Nashboro where, apart from making records, he was also head of promotion. At Nashboro, Freddie cut many fine soul sides for their Mankind imprint. Most were produced by Jerry Williams Jr. and his 1970 ‘Magnetic North’ long player is rightly regarded as a southern soul masterpiece. Most of North’s Mankind output has been reissued, chiefly by Ace/Kent and now they make available the best of Freddie North’s earlier recordings (cut for the A- Bet subsidiary) alongside several more Mankind releases – in all, a generous 23 cuts, four of which are seeing the light of day for the very first time!

The music reveals a fine soul stylist, with an uncanny similarity in tone and approach to the great Jerry Butler. Indeed this collection kicks off with Freddie’s version of Butler’s ‘Gotta Go Get Your Mommy To Come Back Home Again’ while covers of ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’, ‘Oh Lord What Are You Doing To Me’ , ‘Remember What I Told You To Forget’ and ‘My Whole World Ended’ could be outtakes from a prime time Ice Man album. Superb stuff!

Of the previously unissued tracks, soul buffs will recognize ‘Til I Get It Right’. Originally recorded by Tammy Wynette, Bettye Swann cut the defining soul version. Freddie almost matches it with a sound maybe more like Joe Simon than Jerry Butler.

Freddie North stayed with the Nashboro set up till 1977. Reverting to his birth name, he joined the Christian ministry and is now the pastor at Nashville’s Bethel Church. We’re told that he politely rebuffs all request for interviews and information about his secular music career… so all we have is the music… sweet southern soul at its best!

(BB) 4/5