JOHNNY ADAMS: ‘Heart & Soul’ (Label: Vampisoul)

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JOHNNY ADAMS: 'Heart & Soul'

Big Easy-born soul singer, Johnny Adams, possessed a magnificent set of pipes – his athletic, gospel-reared voice was rich, resonant and wonderfully expressive – but fate, combining with the perplexing vagaries of the music business, conspired to prevent him from becoming a household name. Adams scored his first Billboard US chart entry for the New Orleans indie RIC as far back as 1962 with the Top 30 R&B smash, ‘A Losing Battle’ but another six years passed before Adams was able to make another successful foray into the higher reaches of the R&B lists. By then he was signed to entrepreneur Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label based in Nashville. It was while he was with SSS that he scored his biggest smash, ‘Reconsider Me,’ which broke into the R&B Top 10 in the summer of ’69. That fabulous country-infused ballad with its pleading refrain appeared on Adams’ solitary LP for the company, ‘Heart & Soul,’ which now gets a welcome reissue courtesy of the Madrid-based label, Vampisoul. As well as the original 11-track album from 1969, six bonus tracks from the same timeframe have been added, making this a rewarding package for soul connoisseurs. The album kicks off with a magnificent opener, ‘Georgia Morning Dew,’ which marries soul with a distinctive country feel (not surprising given SSS’s Nashville connection). Adams also delivers a brilliant soul-infused performance of the old country hit, ‘Release Me,’ which was an R&B chart-topper for Esther Phillips in 1962 and also a big pop smash for kitsch lounge crooner Engelbert Humperdinck in the UK. As well as striking ballads, there are some strong uptempo numbers on the album – like the funky ‘You Made A New Man Out Of Me,’ originally a non-album flipside, and the propulsive groover, ‘South Side Of Soul Street.’ Sadly, Johnny Adams – who resurfaced as a blues singer in the ’80s and ’90s – died from cancer in 1998 aged 66, thereby depriving the world of one of soul music’s most compelling and passionate male voices. For those who are unfamiliar with the man dubbed ‘the Tan Canary,’ this compilation provides an essential introduction.
(CW) 4/5