Clarence Carter (Born 14/01/1936)
|Yep, everyone remembers the maudlin and sentimental 'Patches' (the Primer has a sneaking regard for it, nonetheless!) but the man produced far more than this atypical hit, and much of his material was southern soul of the highest quality.
As a child he learned guitar and piano at the Taladega School for the Blind, although he probably gained just as much from listening avidly to the records of his early favourites such as John Lee Hooker. Relatively early success came with the release of 'Step By Step' on the Fame label, a Clarence and Calvin duet recorded with Calvin Scott.
He was also capable of interesting and innovative interpretations of songs made famous by others; take the classic soul ballad 'At The Dark End Of The Street' for example, which he prefaces with a cracking preaching monologue ('Makin' Love') as early as 1968 - quite early on in soul history for what amounts to around four minutes of preaching and thirty seconds of singing! And much of what he records he imbues with a fine sense of humour, rare in music that is also this passionate.
Clarence continued to record throughout the 80s and 90s, producing some intense blues - oriented work on the Iciban label, all worth searching out and enjoying. However, the material he recorded for Atlantic, especially between 1965 ('Step By Step') and 1970/71 ('Patches') is music to be treasured by any true soul lover. And fortunately for all of us, it has been lovingly compiled onto one excellent 21 track CD "Snatching It Back: The Best Of Clarence Carter" (Sequel Records). In the UK, it's even at mid price, so presumably it is everywhere else, which makes it an absolute steal!! Oh, there's a surprise, it's now out of print. So, try the "Platinum Collection" instead - equally fine and available, at least at the time of this update!