FREDDIE SCOTT; The Very Best Of… (Playback Records)

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Rhode Island born FREDDIE SCOTT is another of soul’s great cult heroes. Like many, he’s unknown in the mainstream but revered by serious soul collectors especially those who favour classic 60s/70s uptown soul – a soul sub-genre of which Freddie was a master. His fans have been well served by the reissue labels but Australian label Playback Records have just released a 26 track Freddie Scott compilation that’s a little different to what’s already out there. You see most of the current Scott retrospectives have for obvious licensing reasons  focused on his work for one particular label; this new set offers cuts from eight different labels and spans his peak period – 1963 – 1972- so it truly lives up to it title, ‘The Very Best Of…’

The album begins with Mr S’s best known outing and one of his biggest hits –  his definitive  reading of Goffin and King’s ‘Hey Girl’. Scott was, at that  time, 1963, trying to forge a career as a songwriter (between his time in the military, he’d written hits for people like Ricky Nelson and Johnnie and Joe). He found himself a job at Aldon Music who had an office in the famed Brill Building – thus the contact with Goffin and King. Indeed he originally recorded ‘Hey Girl’ for them as a demo  intended for Chuck Jackson but when the latter failed to show for the session, Freddie got the gig and when the song was released on Colpix, it hit the top 10! His  follow up was a laid back version of Ray Charles’ ‘I Got A Woman’  – another chart hit and included here.

When Colpix folded, Freddie moved on to Columbia and thence to Bert Berns’ Shout Label where he cut the R&B chart topper ‘Are You Lonely For Me Baby’ – also included, of course. Thence he was off to Elephant V, Probe, Mainstream and Pickwick International. Then as the hits dried up, Freddie focused on writing and acting. He also became a mainstay on the oldies circuit and actually released an album, ‘Brand New Man’ in 2001. He died in New York in 2007 aged 74.

This new Playback set offers a wonderful overview of Scott’s work. The hits, as we’ve mentioned, are included but also of real interest are ‘Where Does Love Go’ and ‘Brand New World (both classic Goffin/King compositions), ‘You Got What I Need’ (an early Gamble/Huff song released by Scott in 1968 on Shout)  and a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’ which was released on Elephant V in 1970. Collectors will  be delighted to have access to two real rarities – a previously unissued ‘Why Did I Lose You’ and a song called ‘Watermelon Man’ (not the jazz standard, by the way) which was only ever released as a promo single in 1997. Though it’s provenance is a lot later than the rest of the material it’s inclusion is well worth it.

Rarity or well-known  item – this lovely 26 tracker is a wonderful testament to a supreme  uptown stylist and a fitting tribute to his art!

(BB) 4/5