BOBBY HEBB: ‘Sunny’ (Label: Hip-O Select)

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Born in Nashville, the Mecca of American country music, Bobby Hebb studied guitar with Chet Atkins and even performed at the famous Grand Ole Opry venue before taking his unique amalgam of soul, country and jazz to New York in the early ’60s. Hebb is often regarded as a one-hit wonder, though for the record, he enjoyed a couple of hits on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Sunny,’ of course, was his biggest chart triumph and that much-covered number became his signature song. The parent album was released in 1966 on the Phillips label and interestingly, its front cover didn’t feature Hebb at all – as was de rigueur back then with many black artists, the front cover featured a wholesome vanilla-hued model. The famous title song is profoundly poignant given its source of inspiration: it was written about Hebb’s brother Hal, who was tragically killed in a mugging the day after J.F.K. was assassinated in November 1963. The original album that spawned the song was available to US buyers a couple of years ago but is now available via UK retailers through Universal’s Import Music Services. Remastered and packaged in a facsimile of its original LP cover, besides the classic title track, ‘Sunny’ features ‘A Satisfied Mind,’ Hebb’s soulful reconfiguration of an old country tune, and the big Northern Soul anthem, the stomping ‘Love Love Love,’ which dented the UK Top 40 in 1972. This is a reissue guaranteed to light up the life of many a soul music connoisseur. But you’d better hurry though – it’s strictly a limited edition item.
(CW) 4/5