GEORGE JACKSON: Let The Best Man Win (Kent)

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This lovely 24 tracker is Kent’s third look at the career of southern singer/songwriter George Jackson. The first collection looked at the man’s tenure at the Sounds Of Memphis label while the second volume featured some of his work for Rick Hall’s FAME label. We say “some” advisedly. George Jackson, you see, was prolific – especially as a writer and it seems he was in the FAME studio almost every day cutting demos on his material and, when Hall allowed him, recording his songs for release under his own name. There was so much Jackson material in the archive that the Kent people have had no trouble putting together this third collection and, quite remarkably, all the songs have never been issued before! Again we use “quite remarkably” advisedly as much of the material here is as good as anything that Jackson (and indeed other Southern soul stars) released and begs the question why it’s stayed in the can for so long.

There’s lots and lots of great soul here but pride of place goes to the quite lovely ‘Victim Of a Foolish Heart’. It’s a classic head nodder with a simple but effective melody and every bit as good as Bettye Swann’s better known version. Then there’s the beautiful ballad ‘Two Wrongs Don’t Make It Right’… a song that proves quite conclusively that the Southern studios could cut soul just as sweet as their Northern counterparts. Other outstanding cuts include the broody builder ‘His Love Came Knocking At Your Door’, the Sam Cooke-inspired ‘I’m Living Good’ and the brash and brassy ‘Forbidden Love’. Dip in anywhere, however, and you’ll hear Southern soul at its best. There’s blues-based soul (‘Hit And Run’), country-tinged soul (”I Lived Though A Losing Battle’), testifying soul (‘Hold That Feeling’), rollicking, rocky soul (a version of ‘Minnie Skirt Minnie’) and much, much more. For Southern soul collectors this is a must … and it’s rumoured there’s more to come.

(BB) 4/5