Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The soul of Goldwax

My blog on Southern Soul recently attracted a few comments, proving that it's not just demented British rock and roll fans who occasionally dip in. It continues to be an exciting genre, but for the real, original article nothing can beat the fantastic records that came out of Quinton's Claunch's Goldwax label in Memphis in the 60s. For many people, James Carr is THE greatest soul singer ever and I have to agree. His passion drenched voice still makes my hair stand on end whenever I hear it. And on the one occasion I saw him in the UK - at Blackheath - the intensity of his performance was almost painful to behold. Overcoming all sorts of mental problems he apparently forced himself to perform, having been in seclusion for many years. His death from cancer in 2001 put an end to his agony, and sadly to the ecstasy of his brilliant soulful delivery.

Goldwax wasn't just about James Carr of course. I first became aware of the label through the wonderful Louis Williams and the Ovations. I was convinced, when I first heard It's Wonderful to be in love, that it was my hero Sam Cooke that I was listening to. But in the absence of Sam, the Ovations made an excellent substitute, and they made some great records for Goldwax before moving on to MGM and one or two others labels in the 70s. And then there was Spencer Wiggins, a virtual unknown in the UK, who came close to matching James Carr in terms of pure deep soul. No one who has heard Uptight good woman is likely to forget it. And of course the even more brilliant O V Wright, whose That's how strong my love is was his only Goldwax release before Don Robey allegedly forced him to record for his Houston based Backbeat label instead because of a prior contract from his gospel singing career.

Whenever I come across a Goldwax single, which unfortunately isn't very often, I snap it up, because they are all excellent. And at last most of the back catalogue is now available on CD. But for more information I cannot recommend too highly http://redkelly.blogspot.com/ which has covered Goldwax in detail. Also its sister blog http://www.souldetective.com/ Great blogs, packed with information about the music I love.


At 10:55 pm , Blogger Red Kelly said...

Hey, I couldn't agree with you more about Goldwax, Nick... but then you already know that, I guess!

Thanks for the kind words, and rest assured, I'll be linking back here as well...


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