Lost Love: The Singles As & Bs 1947-1962
Another English public domain reissue of vintage rhythm and blues brings us Percy Mayfield's first 27 singles (whether 78s or 45s) and a previously unissued couple of tracks. While Mayfield's Specialty recordings were subject of classic reissues some time ago, they may hard to find. Furthermore, here are his recordings for Gru-Tone and Supreme that predate his joining Specialty, and also are recordings Checker, Cash, Imperial, 7 Arts, and Tangerine.
The album opens with the two part jump and jive "Jack You Ain't Nowhere," and then his first recording of "Two Years of Torture," both with an unidentified band although his vocal is under-recorded on the latter two. When he signed with Supreme he had a pair of singles including a remake of "Two Years of Torture," with a band that included Maxwell Davis, Marshall Royal, and Chuck Norris and much better recorded presaging the time with Specialty. His first record for Specialty, with a band that included Maxwell Davis as well as Jack McVea, Gene Phillips, Red Callender and Lee Young, had the classics "Please Send Me Someone To Love," and "Strange Things Happening." So many classics are here including "Lost Love (Baby Please Come Back to Me)," "The Hunt Is One," "The River's Invitation," "The Bachelor Blues," "My Heart Is Crying," with Maxwell Davis being a constant on these. Besides his tenor saxophonist, I suspect Davis was responsible for the arrangements and leading the studio band.
While Davis is not present on the recordings for Cash and Checker, those sides produced gems like "No.43 (My Story About A Woman)," with a choice Fred Clark tenor saxophone solo, and the moody "The Bluest Blues." "Please Believe Me" is an unusual ballad recording with a sweeter sound than earlier selections, while he produced a urban blues gem "My Heart is a Prisoner," with the guitar more prominent in the backing along with some tough tenor sax. One of his last Specialty singles was the jazzy cocktail ballad, "When Did You Leave Heaven" while for 7 Arts he recorded "Ha Ha In The Daytime, Boo Hoo At Night," a tune he would remake a bit more emphatically later. A Tangerine coupling included Ray Charles, Hank Crawford, Teddy Edwards and Chuck Norris include the hard swinging big band groove of "Never No More," which would also be on his LPs that he recorded for Ray Charles' label. Mayfield would continue to make strong music beyond the singles documented here including albums for Brunswick and RCA Victor along with a single for Atlantic.
Besides one of the great songwriters of the blues leading him to be called "The Poet Laureate of the Blues," Percy Mayfield was a suave, sophisticated singer and a major touring attraction until his face was heavily disfigured in an automobile accident. While his career as a star was over, the music here shows that his music remained original and distinctive. Some of the material (the non-Specialty recordings) on this is rare and even those having the Specialty reissues might want this to fill-in gaps in their collection of his recordings. There is a discography of the songs here and astute notes from Dave Penny. For those not having much by him, this does present the core of his recorded legacy.
I purchased this. Here is a later recording than that on this collection of "The River's Invitation."