Saturday, October 13, 2007

Roscoe Shelton's Soulful Legacy

Fred James has played a substantial role in documenting and getting recognition for Nashville's R&B scene. One of the artists whose careers Fred James helped to revive was Roscoe Shelton who passed away in 2002. Originally Shelton was on the Excello label for whom he made many fine blues and soul recordings, many of which were his own songs. Later he recorded for Sound Stage 7 where he had two national hits, appeared on the legendary The !!!!Beat TV show and then found himself burned out. He did record some for local labels and performed in local clubs and then semi-retired from music, working at a medical hospital. James recorded fellow Excello artist Clifford Curry in 1992 for an Italian label, and Curry told him many of his label mates were still around, leading to Shelton's career being revived which led to albums on Blue Moon, Appaloosa, Black Top and Cannonball (with Earl Gaines). "Save Me", the present set, is comprised of recordings from a variety of dates. One is a duet with Mary Ann Brandon is from her album "R.O.A.D.", while a track with Earl Gaines is an alternate of what appeared on Cannonball. A terrific singer that grew up in the Church (he was once a member of the Fairfield Four), he was very at home with the blues. Highlights include the terrific title track, the cover of Ivory Joe Hunter's "Blues at Midnight," the shuffle, "Why Didn't You Yell Me (For So Long)," and the belly-bumping blues, "Think It Over." Not a bad track here as Shelton never received the recognition his talents and music deserved. Highly recommended.

This is slightly edited version of review that appeared in Jazz & Blues Report

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