Blues Bytes


February 2006

an associate

Order this CD today

Wilson Pickett
The Very Best of Wilson Pickett

Wilson Pickett

When Wilson Pickett passed away a couple of weeks ago, a lot of people were surprised. Most of the time, when a performer is touring years after his hit records, that performer is usually a mere shadow of what they once were. With Pickett, that was never the case. He sounded as good, and sometimes better, than those great records of 35-40 years ago. It’s somewhat hard to believe that that he was 64 years old because he was still at the top of his game before health problems forced his retirement last year. What better way to pay tribute to “The Wicked Pickett” than to look at Rhino’s The Very Best of Wilson Pickett.

Even though Pickett had been only been recording for a couple of years before signing in 1965 with Stax Records (his first hit with the Falcons, 1962‘s “I Found A Love,” complete with Robert Ward‘s scintillating guitar, is present on this collection), his first session for the label produced one of the best soul numbers ever. With Stax guitarist Steve Cropper, Pickett produced “In The Midnight Hour,” and his delivery, thick with sexual tension (Let’s face it, he wasn‘t waiting ‘til the Midnight hour to play checkers, folks) made it the soul standard it is today.

He followed that success a few months later with “634-5789,” and over the next few years Pickett had quite a hot streak, with hits like “Land of 1000 Dances,” “Funky Broadway,” “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,“ and “Mustang Sally,” which ranks with “Midnight” as Pickett’s biggest hit. Subsequently, Pickett teamed with Bobby Womack, who contributed several other memorable songs to the Pickett catalog, including “I’m In Love” and “I’m A Midnight Mover.”

The Very Best of also features a couple of unlikely hits. Pickett’s rough and ready take on the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” features some amazing guitar pyrotechnics by guitar legend Duane Allman, and his cover of the Archies’(!) “Sugar Sugar” gives the song a brand new face, which is what one would actually hope would happen.

Shortly thereafter, at the beginning of the ’70s, Pickett teamed with the Philadelphia producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, prior to their almost single-handedly revival of soul music back in the mid and late ’70s. Pickett’s Gamble and Huff years are well-represented by a couple of his later hits, “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You” and the psychedelic “Engine Number 9.” 

Through all the changes in styles over the years, Pickett’s incredibly soulful vocals, seemingly on the verge of exploding always carried the day. Jerry Wexler once said that while most singers screamed sounds, Pickett screamed notes, and that part of his approach never changed. Even through several “comeback“ efforts, including a Motown release in the late ‘80s (American Soul Man) and his swan song, 1999‘s It‘s Harder Now, Pickett sounded every bit as strong as on those early ‘60s singles. In the world of soul music, he was truly one of a kind and will be missed greatly.

--- Graham Clarke


[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]



The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: January 31, 2006 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2005, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.