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Kent (CDKEND331)

Why Not Tonight?, I'm A Man Of Action, I Worship The Ground You Walk On, Neighbor Neighbor (version 2), It Was Nice, Slippin' Around With You, Midnight Affair, It's A Good Thing, I'm The Loving Physician, I Stand Accused, When It Comes To Dancing, You Can't Believe Everything That You Hear, Don't Lose Your Good Thing, Hi Heel Sneakers, Time Will Bring You Back, Uncle Sam, It Ain't What You Got, Dillie Dillie, Well Alright Girl, Neighbor Neighbor (version 3).

Jimmy Hughes came from one of the small towns dotted around Alabama's Muscle Shoals where southern soul blossomed during the sixties. He started his career in gospel music performing in groups with his cousin Percy Sledge but 1962 found him immersed in the soul music scene down at the FAME studios in Florence where Rick Hall, Spooner Oldham, Dan Penn, Billy Sherrill, Donnie Fritts, David Briggs, Jimmy Johnson were busy recording some of the finest black music in America's history.

He started recording there in 1962 and hit the big time a year later when his song about infidelity Steal Away hit the airwaves. It was huge, making it to number five in the R&B charts and number 17 on the Top 100 and eventually it spawned the album of the same title in 1964.

Why Not Tonight? - The Fame Recordings Volume 2 (CDKEND331) is stuffed to the gills with great music; the ten tracks that made up his Atlantic/Fame LP of the same title plus seven non-album A&B sides and three unissued sides are a shed-load of terrific dance sides and wonderfully heroic soul ballads, some of which have remained un-reissued for over forty years. 

There are two terrific alternate takes of Neighbor Neighbor, one with steely guitar work and punchy horns and the other taken at a slower pace with a churchy organ feel, slick guitar licks and a guitar solo that's been shoved through the special effects box. It's fabulous! Hughes had a pure gospel tinged singing voice that could handle slow ballads like I Stand Accused, the Joe Tex preaching style on Don't Lose Your Good Thing and the funky upbeat Hi Heel Sneakers without missing a beat. There are some truly great songs here like the green-onions-ish It Ain't What You Got, the upbeat boisterousness of Too Much and the almost Motown arrangement of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's Slippin' Around.

Quite simply, some of the best deep soul music to come out of Muscle Shoals. It's music you should not miss. Top notch.

Review Date: March 2010

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