Monday, October 01, 2007

Arthur Alexander's Final Chapter

Arthur Alexander was a sixties soul singer whose recordings of Anna and You Better Move On were covered by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. However despite his influence he had left the music scene by 1980 and driving a bus and working with disadvantaged kids in Cleveland. In the early 1990s he recorded Lonely Just Like Me for Electra/Nonesuch as part of the short-lived American Explorer series. Sessions with some who had accompanied him in the sixties such as Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts and Reggie Young were joined by (among others) Gary Nicholson and Jim Spake for the original album which led to critical acclaim, an appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air and the a concert appearance in Nashville, which sadly did him in as he was checked into a hospital and a few days later passed on.

HackTone has just issued an augmented reissue of the album, Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter that reissues the original LP with his performance from Fresh Air, hotel demos of several songs and a live performance of Anna at New York’s Bottom Line. Even today the subtle country-soul of Alexander appeals with his sober, melancholy performances. The studio album had him redo his Sally Sue Brown, along with twelve other performances. One thing about the studio performances is how akin to country music his songs and performances were starting with the opening If It’s Really Go to Be This Way, as well as Lonely Just This Way and Every Day I Have to Cry. If he had not died so prematurely, one can imagine him on CMT doing duets with the likes of a Marty Stuart. The Fresh Air performance includes some interviews and a bit more stripped down backing for Go Home Girl, You Better Move On, and Every Day I Have to Cry. Demos include an intriguing rendition of Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man, before his reprising of Anna. I would not call him one of the great soul singers in the manner of a Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett or James Carr, but his understated delivery does soulfully deliver these performances. Recommended.

Thi review originally appeared in the September 2007 Jazz & Blues Report (www.jazz-blues.c0m)

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