JIMMY HUGHES: Why Not Tonight (Label: Kent)

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JIMMY HUGHES: Why Not Tonight

This is the second volume in what will be a trilogy of Kent albums on iconic southern soul man, Jimmy Hughes. In the mid sixties Hughes was a mainstay of Rick Hall’s Fame label (helping to establish its credentials with his masterly ‘Steal Away’) and the first Kent album focused on his recordings that were licensed/distributed chiefly through Vee Jay. This new set looks at the Hughes’ Fame recordings that were distributed via Atlantic (post-1965) but the sound is essentially the same- authentic southern soul, full of guts, passion and commitment. Maybe too much of all three, because even though Hughes (through Fame) had the resources of the mighty Atlantic behind him he managed to achieve what can only be described as minor success. The Hughes/Fame/Atlantic connection yielded just three hits – the jaunty Ray Stevens-arranged reworking of ‘Neighbor, Neighbor’ peaked at 4 on the R&B charts, a lugubrious ‘I Worship The Ground You Walk On’ managed a number 25 spot on the same chart while the sultry ‘Why Not Tonight’ got to number 5, R&B. Those three songs form the main focus of this 21 tacker which also includes Hughes’ other Fame/ Atlantic singles and all the tracks from his ‘Why Not Tonight’ album. Of those there’s a very respectful version of Jerry Butler’s ‘I Stand Accused’ , a breezy Impressions-inspired ‘It’s A Good Thing’ and a version of ‘Slipping Around With You’, which in the similarly Fame-recorded Art Freeman version went on to became a Northern soul classic. Collectors will also be delighted by the fact that the album features a trio of previously unissued tracks – including a third version of ‘Neighbor, Neighbor’ – which the Kent detectives think might actually be Jimmy’s second stab at the song. Sounds confusing? Well, as ever, the excellent Kent sleeve notes explain all; they also reiterate what soul people already know – that commercial success doesn’t always equate with artistic excellence. We can look forward to more of Hughes’ artistic excellence when Kent issue a third volume of his work later in the year.
(BB) 4/5