CD - George Soule: Take A Ride
Another example of a great talent from the southern soul stable to be picked up and recorded by a UK label, George is a fine and grossly underrated singer and songsmith. Primarily remembered as a songwriter behind some of the great songs that came out of the Muscle Shoals environment (including material for the likes of Percy Sledge, Candi Staton, Judy Clay and Bobby Womack), it comes as a surprise to all but a very few that Soule is also an incredibly soulful singer.
However, he never took centre stage as a singer in the 60s, instead appearing in the studio as a musician or background vocalist with the likes of J. J. Cale, Bobby Blue Bland, Mac Davis, Dan Penn, Swamp Dogg, Etta James, Willie Nelson, Candi Staton, Tony Joe White and many others. Apart from those in the know, I guess the closest anyone has got to any awareness of his undoubted vocal chops up until now is with the release of 'Get Involved' on the Casual compilation "Country Got Soul".
Following the Casual release, Soule featured on three cuts on the excellent Country Soul Revue "Testifying" album - 'Jaguar Man', 'It's Over' and 'I'm Only Human' were three of the best tracks on the CD. He also appeared at the "It Came From Memphis" festival at the Barbican Centre in London. And now we have the release of his first solo album after nearly 40 years in the business.
"Take A Ride" was recorded at Beech House Studio, Nashville and lovers of the southern soul sound will not be disappointed. There are a number of George's own compositions (or songs co-written by him), including 'I'll Be You Everything" (originally recorded by Percy Sledge), 'Take A Ride', 'Shoes' (Brook Benton), 'My World Tumbles Down' and 'Bend Over Backwards'. Other writing credits include Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and Don Covay and ensure a distinct, down to earth, and personal set of songs.
If you're a fan of Dan Penn, the Casual Country Got Soul releases or the "Testifying" album, then you will find much to like here. Having heard the album, you'll still be wondering where a voice that soulful comes from - and why George has spent virtually all of his career as a songwriter, backing vocalist and lead on only a handful of singles. This is timeless music, simple, soulful and completely unpretentious. Let's hope it finds the audience it deserves.