Classy soul singer, Al Wilson is best known over here for two recordings – ‘Show And Tell’ and ‘The Snake’. The former, a real smooth soul favourite, was cut in the second phase of Wilson’s career while Northern fave and Lambrini ad soundtrack, ‘The Snake’ dates from the time the man was pacted to Johnny Rivers’ Soul City records. That 100 mph version of the Oscar Brown allegory comes from Al’s only album for that label, ‘Searching For The Dolphins’ which, at last, has won reissue via Ace’s Kent imprint. Here you get all the album’s original eleven tracks and – as is the way with Ace – a slew of bonuses. Recorded in 1968 the ‘Dolphins’ album is a perfect artefact of late sixties smooth soul and like much contemporary material is made up of original songs and some thoughtful covers – like ‘The Snake’. Other re-treads include a version of the 4 Tops’ ‘Shake Me Wake Me’ and Jerry Butler’s ‘I Stand Accused’ and Wilson acquits himself well on both. There’s also takes on two Jimmy Webb tunes – ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ and ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ and though we know that Webb was a Soul City staffer, there’s still a debate as to who recorded the definitive originals. It is all academic, of course, but Wilson offers strong versions and they rival the LP’s title cut as the pick of the bunch. The Ace/Kent sourced bonus cuts aren’t quiet as strong. They include Soul City B-sides and a quartet of songs dating from Wilson’s time with Carousel but they will satisfy completists, who’ll also now demand, I’m sure, a decent, re-mastered reissue of the Rocky Road album ‘Show And Tell’.
(BB) 3 out of 5