ROY HAMILTON: Tore Up (Label: Shout)


UK reissue specialist, Shout continue their series on Roy Hamilton with this concise 22 tracker that covers the singer’s work right at the end of his career when he was pacted to AGP and RCA. Big voiced and with a gospel background, Hamilton had enjoyed major success in the 50s with songs like ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Ebb Tide’ but as the 60s dawned his management and marketing people found some difficultly in finding a style that suited both Hamilton and contemporary tastes. By 1966 he was working for RCA and that very problem was still apparent in the variety of material he recorded. His people still wanted him to record big, dramatic ballads and show tunes like ‘The Impossible Dream, ‘and ‘Walk Hand In Hand’, though to hedge their bets they tried him on faster Motown-inspired dancers too – one of which ‘Crackin’ Up Over You’ eventually found acceptance on the UK Northern scene. Better – at least in terms of soul quotient – were Hamilton’s stabs at the Burt Bacharach song book and versions of ‘Let The Music Play’ and ‘Reach Out For Me’ rival all the better-known takes. To catch Hamilton at his most soulful though try ‘Heartache Hurry On By’ – a great example of mid-60s uptown soul balladry that will recall the best of Jerry Butler and Walter Jackson. Despite the quality of such tracks, lack of success drove Hamilton out of RCA to AGP where owners Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill recorded him in classic southern soul settings on new songs like ‘Angelica’ and oldies like ‘It’s Only Make Believe’ and ‘The Dark End Of The Street’. Hamilton acquitted himself well – so well in fact that Dave Godin picked up Hamilton’s version of ‘Dark End’ for release on his legendary Deep Soul label. That cut and the B side, ‘One Hundred Years’, take soul pride of place here, though, as we’ve outlined above, Hamilton had lots more to offer. Roy Hamilton died prematurely in 1969 while working on new soul material at AGP – though the session tapes seem to have disappeared. The Shout soul sleuths are currently trying to track them down, but in the meantime this 22 track RCA/AGP compilation offers a great snapshot of Hamilton’s last years.
(BB) 3/5