Born and raised in and around Muscle Shoals, Jimmy Hughes is the archetypal southern soul hero. Through the sixties he cuts a slew of classic soul tunes yet major success eluded him and in 1971 he disappeared off the radar. We can offer all kinds of reasons as to why he never joined soul’s premier league. Listening to this wonderful 22 tracker we might suggest that for a southern singer some of his material had a distinct uptown feel to it… a confusion maybe compounded by the fact that, though recorded at the famed FAME studios, his early musical forays appeared first on the Philly-based Jamie-Guyden label, then on Chicago’s Vee Jay. Equally, in the UK Jimmy suffered the same fate as many of his contemporaries as the beat battalions plundered his catalogue for material. So, Jimmy’s ‘Neighbour Neighbour’ became a mainstay for the Spencer Davis Group, Liverpool’s Tommy Quickly enjoyed some success with Hughes’ ‘You Might As Well Forget Him’, while fellow Scousers, The Searchers went all the way to number 1 with a version of ‘Goodbye My Lover Goodbye’ – which they renamed ‘Goodbye My Love’. Those three tunes are obvious high spots here but real soul fans won’t be disappointed with anything. ‘I’m Qualified’, ‘I Tried To Tell You’ and ‘My Adorable One’ are classic southern soul while ‘There Is Something On Your Mind’ and the cover of ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ prove that the blues was never too far away from a real soul man’s repertoire. A little smoother are ‘Lovely Ladies’ and ‘Have You Done Got Over Me’ … both flavoured with generous uptown soul (that latter track could be the Drifters) ; though there’s more of a pop sensibility to ‘I’m Gonna Rise Again’ while ‘Lollipops, Lace And Lipstick’ would have been a great vehicle for Elvis Presley. Hughes also cut a fair share of covers – best represented here by James Brown’s ‘Try Me’, and Arthur Alexander’s ‘Shot Of Rhythm And Blues’. The man’s biggest hit ‘Steal Away’ takes pride of place – of course – alongside a previously unissued ‘Part 2′ which was recorded during Jimmy’s later stay with Atlantic. While this collection focuses on Hughes’ early work, that particular track points the way to a volume 2 – scheduled for early next year – that will cover his work with Volt/Atlantic.