There really is something to be said about combing through the dusty bins at the used CD stores that I visit. True that most of my mining adventures come up empty but every so often I hit a unfound gem.
Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues: 1945 – 1970 is such an example, While I had heard of a few of the artists on this two disc compilation, the bulk were unknown to me. My favorite kind!
A review of the set by Keith Moerer on Amazon put it best:
The most startling revelation contained on this two-CD compilation is how rich, varied, and deep Nashville’s R&B scene was during a 25-year period in which the city solidified its reputation as the undisputed capital of country music. Arranged chronologically, Night Train to Nashville also traces the steady progression of African-American music beginning with the end of WWII–from jump blues, lusty R&B, and smooth-groove vocal groups to proto rock & roll, Southern soul, and Top 40 pop that drew blacks and whites together even as the Vietnam War nearly ripped the country apart. Although this collection contains well-known hits (Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny”, Robert Knight’s “Everlasting Love”) and widely acknowledged stars (Etta James and Ruth Brown, both of whom recorded some of their best work in Nashville), many of its most satisfying pleasures come courtesy of lesser-known artists, such as R&B belter Christine Kittrell, swamp bluesman Shy Guy Douglas, and balladeer Sam Baker. In the midst of many ear-opening discoveries, add one more: When listening to the countrified soul of Arthur Alexander, Joe Simon, and Johnny Adams, it’s apparent that Nashville in its ’60s heyday wasn’t two separate but equal towns but one glorious Southern-music Mecca. –Keith Moerer
Shy Guy Douglas (l) and Bobby Hebb (r)
When most people think of Nashville they think of the Grand Ol’ Opry and the heartbeat of country music. The music on this record is more akin to the juke joints and R&B clubs than a honky-tonk. There are some great songs here and they bring up the imagery of a time when racial barriers were being taken down and music played a huge part in that.
Concert poster for Gunter opening for Little Walter.
Roscoe Shelton, Peggy Scott, Robert Knight (l-r)
For your enjoyment…..
” Sunny” – Bobby Hebb. Although Hebb was from Nashville this was recorded in NYC for Jerry Ross in 1966 and went u the charts. Hebb opened for The Beatles on a part of their US tour and was very well received.
- “Baby, Let’s Play House” – Arthur Gunter. Another Nashville native. Gunter wrote this in 1954 and it became his biggest hit. It was later covered of course by The King a year later.
- “Say You Really Care” – Roscoe Shelton. Roscoe worked a lot with Bobby Hebb and his biggest hit was “Strain On My Heart”. He had a great voice and was a terrific talent.
- “Snap Your Fingers” – Joe Henderson. Man, listen to the low-end of Joe’s voice. It gives me a chill when I hear it.
- “Since I Met You Baby” – The Avons. Not to be confused with the British group of the same name that had a hit with “Hey, Paula” ( as in “Hey Paula, I wanna marry you.”)
- “Soul Shake” – Jo Jo Benson and Peggy Scott. Not much info out there on Jo Jo but Peggy had a great singing career. She was billed as “The Little Lady With the Big Voice”. You can hear why.
- “Everlasting Love” – Robert Knight. I saved a great one for last. Very recognizable as it was a huge hit for Mr. Knight. One of the great songs to come out of Nashville.