THE FIRST SOUL MAN…Jackie Wilson: The Complete Singles As & Bs 1952-62

Before Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Michael Jackson and Teddy Pendergrass, the voice of soul for R&B was delivered by ex-boxer Jackie Wilson. He had a set of chops that flew into the stratosphere or dug deep into the Georgia clay, and his shows earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement” for the way he danced and dropped to his knees while performing. This 2 disc set covers his early years, and it’s a great intro to not only Wilson himself, but to the way a song can be interpreted with the most bel of bel canto.

His early material showed him giving an aria performance of “Danny Boy,” with the next hit being the ultimate Vegas act as he rolls his “r” like a Spaniard in “Reet Petite,” a tune that embodies all that is hip about pop music. Songs like “To Be Loved” may be made for the masses, but Wilson milks every lyric with his Grand Canyon of a vibrato to milk every syllable. The apotheosis of this era is “Lonely Teardrops” with the vintage guitar lick relentlessly supporting Wilson as he hits the stars on his yelps and goes sotto voce in the following swoop like a pelican in for the kill. He exudes attitude on swingers such as “Talk That Talk” while standing by the lampstand with his jacket slung over his shoulder on “Doggin Around” and the dramatic “Night.”

All 55 songs  here include an excellent booklet that give some background on this unfortunately overlooked giant. Check him out!

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