Arthur Alexander: Classic or Dud/S & D?

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Seems an obscure figure, this man. But clearly he is of interest... what are people's thoughts, who know his work well...?

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 1 February 2004 21:35 (fifteen years ago) link

Great singer and songwriter. Any collection of his early '60s sides is worth picking up, as is the "Rainbow Road," which surveys his '70s stuff for Warner Brothers, and "Lonely Just Like Me," a comeback from the mid-90s. Fans of the Beatles, Stones, George Jones, and Marshall Crenshaw will like hearing the orginals of "Anna," "You Better Move On," and "Soldier of Love," but there's more to him than that.

dylan (dylan), Sunday, 1 February 2004 23:38 (fifteen years ago) link

I lived in his hometown of Florence, AL for quite a few years, and it's amazing how many people there had never heard of him. And the Muscle Shoals area is a place that prides itself in its musical history...

There's no excuse for that shit.

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Monday, 2 February 2004 02:48 (fifteen years ago) link

Black Night.
You Don't Care.
In The Middle of It All.
The Girl That Radiates That Charm.

Are you KIDDING?!?
Classic.

the comeback album is a dud, though

rumple., Monday, 2 February 2004 03:00 (fifteen years ago) link

I've got that one, it's not so bad.

Huck If I Know (Horace Mann), Monday, 2 February 2004 14:56 (fifteen years ago) link

"Rainbow Road", in particular, is one of the best things AA ever did, and a late flowering of contry soul.

Tim (Tim), Monday, 2 February 2004 15:06 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah, definitely one of the obscure legend types who's actually worth tracking down, great songwriter, great voice - I love the fluid relationship between country and western and southern soul in his stuff. haven't heard the comeback record.

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Monday, 2 February 2004 15:25 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Despite the opinions above, the comeback record rules. Very beautiful, very sad.

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Tuesday, 24 May 2005 16:37 (fourteen years ago) link

six years pass...

An overview from the guy who wrote the excellent biography of Arthur : http://www.richardyounger.com/arthur-alexander.php

Another Muzak from a Diffident Lichen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 9 June 2011 15:08 (eight years ago) link

This song hits my automatic goosebumps/teardrops reflex, every damn time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR0-PW0YLkA

Duke Manfist: Action Hero (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 9 June 2011 15:55 (eight years ago) link

I only have one 45 of his: "Love's Where Life Begins" on Sound Stage 7 from the late 60's -- such a great song.

city worker, Thursday, 9 June 2011 16:04 (eight years ago) link

That song is really nice, Dan, thanks. I never did listen to that album, guess I should rectify that. I did go with Mr. Fine WIne to see him perform with Donnie Fritts at the Bottom Line songwriter thing hosted by Vin Scelsa that was part of the ramp up to the come back- that was something to see.

I'd like to hear this comp:

http://www.amazon.com/Monument-Years-Arthur-Alexander/dp/B00005A9XY/ref=pd_sim_m_2

That's the label he recorded for from '66-'69.

timellison, Friday, 10 June 2011 01:44 (eight years ago) link

I'd like to hear that and the Warners comp too, of which I only really know the song "Rainbow Road."

Reading the bio you realize that the Muscle Shoals musicians such as Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts really thought of him as The Guy, their biggest star at one point, the one that the scene really crystallized around.

What song does this remind you of?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUlwh7Ugbog

Interview here at about 1:36
http://thehound.net/19930417/

"Arthur, sell me real fine. You just get better each time, okay"

James & Bobby Quantify (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 13 June 2011 14:11 (eight years ago) link

Despite the opinions above, the comeback record rules. Very beautiful, very sad.
― Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Tuesday, May 24, 2005 12:37 PM (6 years ago)

Our old pal Rickey was otm.

Just listened to the Monument stuff and nothing's really grabbing me except the Neil Diamond song "Glory Road." Tim, you should check out this great lost single which came out on Buddah ( but now they corrected the spelling and it's Buddha) Sharing The Night Together, Arthur Alexander - The Original Is Still The Greatest

What's Welsh for Zen Arcade (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 20 June 2011 00:22 (eight years ago) link

Yeah, nice sound on that. The follow-up to "Every Day I Have to Cry Some," which is great.

No one's talked about the early records yet - "Soldier of Love," "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues," "Anna," "You Better Move On," "Where Have You Been All My Life." He was a great stylist, but that's also clever songwriting on a Chuck Berry level.

timellison, Monday, 20 June 2011 01:29 (eight years ago) link

ha, been listening to arthur alexander a lot lately. he's great.

by another name (amateurist), Monday, 20 June 2011 04:47 (eight years ago) link

Chuck Berry comparison makes sense.

At this point I like the comeback album the best, but obviously "Rainbow Road," "Anna" and plenty of singles.

Strawman ... Or Astro-strawman? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 20 June 2011 18:57 (eight years ago) link

he's got one of those voices with a built-in slight out-of-tuneness that works pretty well most of the time. he sounds wounded and confused a lot. I like him but I don't think he really ranks up there with the greatest soul singers at all, he's a stylist, and his historical significance as the guy who first had hits out of Muscle Shoals is worth noting, as is his songwriting ability. pretty simple stuff actually. The Monument stuff is mostly good, and the 1972 Arthur Alexander LP, the one with "Rainbow Road," is good. He never had much common sense about how to manage his life or career.

ebbjunior, Monday, 20 June 2011 21:50 (eight years ago) link

Don't know if anybody would say he was the greatest soul singer, but he might be the greatest at what he does, which I guess they call country soul. There is a story about when Otis Redding recorded "Johnny('s) Heartbreak" that Otis started to do his schtick at the end of the song and Arthur told him man, if you do that people aren't going to understand what the song is about, but Otis had to be Otis. When you listen to Arthur sing it, you have no doubt as to what it's about.

Strawman ... Or Astro-strawman? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:33 (eight years ago) link

I interviewed Dan Penn recently, he knew Arthur Alexander and everything. I mentioned "country soul" and a dark look came over his face. Dan Penn told me that he'd been at some event in Nashville and some poor soul was talking about the affinity between country and soul music, and asked Dan Penn if he thought country and soul didn't have a lot in common. Dan Penn reared back and said, "NO, I DO NOT."

ebbjunior, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:53 (eight years ago) link

Well of course he would say that, he's stubborn and ornery and he's NOBODY'S FOOL.

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:56 (eight years ago) link

Did you talk to him about Arthur at all? As I may have mentioned elsewhere, years ago I went to the Bottom Line to see Dan and Spooner at one of those Vin Scelsa songwriter things and when they asked Dan who his favorite songwriter and what song of that songwriter's he wished that he had written he said "Arthur Alexander, 'You Better Move On'"

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:58 (eight years ago) link

and anyway, I don't Arthur Alexander is country soul at all, because I don't really think the term means anything. But in the vein of story songs cut in someplace other than Memphis, which doesn't have any "country soul" in its city limits, I think Freddie North's Cuss the Wind, on a Nashville label, 1975, is way better than Arthur Alexander's stuff. Country music is a barely musical form with emphasis on the words; soul music is a barely verbal form with the emphasis on the music, and the groove. Two different things. "Country soul" is just some term some dude in England who doesn't know what he's talking about made up to confuse Americans. Dan Penn ought to know, and actually, he's not really that ornery at all. I went to his house and he showed me these cool thermal socks he was wearing and told me where to go get them. And yeah, I did talk to Dan a bit about Arthur--he loved Arthur and thought his story was tragic. I love him too, but it's not like I think Arthur was any kind of consummate artist or anything, just a guy who got too famous too fast and couldn't handle it.

ebbjunior, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 01:00 (eight years ago) link

I don't think, it should be in that first sentence.

ebbjunior, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 01:01 (eight years ago) link

The term certainly does mean something, it means country plus soul. And Arthur does sound quite a bit country for an R&B singer. If the objection to it is only that it was not a term used at the time and some outsider coined it, that's irrelevant.

timellison, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 01:10 (eight years ago) link

A lot of those Arthur Alexander sides were cut in Nashville with Nashville cats like Floyd Cramer, Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey and a lot of the Muscle Shoals cats like Donnie Fritts and Jerry Carrigan migrated to Nashville- although Dan keep a painted-black studio with the requisite egg-carton paneling in Alabama- so you can either maintain that these people were adept at two different styles of music or realize that the two are more related than some might acknowledge. The danger in making this connection might be that it trivializes the accomplishments of Soul Music and the people who created it, therefore somebody like Dan Penn, with all due respect, is going to want to keep it separate from Country.

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 02:03 (eight years ago) link

You know, like he wanted to be 100% sure that nobody confused him with Ira Louvin

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 02:06 (eight years ago) link

Alabama Music Hall of Fame has no problem with the term: http://www.alamhof.org/arthuralexander.html

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 02:50 (eight years ago) link

Country music is a barely musical form with emphasis on the words; soul music is a barely verbal form with the emphasis on the music, and the groove.

Seriously?

Kind of surprising to hear such a dismissive tone in your posts about the music, and the man, from somebody who clearly knows a lot and cares a lot about this stuff.

brio, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 02:52 (eight years ago) link

There some truth to what he is saying and I might have agreed with it years ago. I tend to think part of it is rhetorical exaggeration, like when he pretends to dislike the Beatles.

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 10:40 (eight years ago) link

Come to think if it, maybe Arthur is collateral damage from that anti-Beatles stance

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 11:09 (eight years ago) link

I have no problem with the idea of country soul or soul country, both genres shared musicians, studios, themes, backgrounds. I think the relationship between the two is far deeper than some dude in England calling it country soul. Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, Jimmy Lewis, William Bell, so many great soul artists cut soul sides flavored with country. That Freddie North record is great, but I wouldn't compared it to Arthur Alexander who had a wider ranged of sides.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN0x180tG0w

JacobSanders, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 11:52 (eight years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUt2noacmJ0

JacobSanders, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 11:53 (eight years ago) link

One thing that's impressive about Arthur is that there are songs like "In The Middle Of It All" that he recorded several times in his career and in many cases the later versions are as good if not better than the earlier ones

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 12:34 (eight years ago) link

This has turned into a really interesting thread! I don't have time at work to get into the whole "country soul" debate, but it made me think of this, so I'll stick it here: Johnny Adams singing Conway Twitty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJXguMA_kyk&feature=related

Duke Manfist: Action Hero (Dan Peterson), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 14:44 (eight years ago) link

Been intrigued by this country soul thing ever since I read that people like James Brown and Ray Charles saying that Little Jimmy Dickens was one of their favorite singers.

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 14:52 (eight years ago) link

Dan Penn reared back and said, "NO, I DO NOT."

Not really relevant to thread, but this reminds me of when my pal Mr. Fine Wine saw Ron Easley sitting at a bar somewhere, Mercury Lounge maybe, and said "aren't you Alex Chilton's bass player?" and a peeved Easley said "I DO HAVE A NAME!"

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 15:06 (eight years ago) link

Have been listening to some of Arthur's individual tracks multiple times in a row. The thing about his understated style is that he really stays focused from the beginning to the end of a song- there is never a bump in the performance where it goes "OK, I laid back for a while, I set the scene, now I GOTTA SING!" Listening to him is like watching a film actor who really knows how to work with the camera, as opposed to a stage actor who is still emoting for the back rows.

The Narcissism of POLL Differences (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 16:13 (eight years ago) link

Hoping ebbjunior is gonna come back soon. He is a pretty smart guy who usually says interesting things.

Cowsill Communication (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 21 June 2011 20:45 (eight years ago) link

Wonder if he talked to Kris Kristofferson about Arthur. Whenever they came through Cleveland, Kris and Donnie Fritts would comp Arthur and his wife with front row seats and when Arthur died Kris sent a wreath with a card that said "See you at the end of the Rainbow Road, partner."

SB Sorrow (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 22 June 2011 17:33 (eight years ago) link

Got a hold of a copy of the book by the dude from England, will try to ascertain whether he knows what he is talking about.

Hairdresser on FIOS (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 July 2011 17:30 (eight years ago) link

What book is it?

timellison, Monday, 4 July 2011 01:03 (eight years ago) link

Say It One Time for the Brokenhearted: Country Soul in the American South by Barney Hoskyns

Safe European HOOS (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 July 2011 01:10 (eight years ago) link

Country music is a barely musical form with emphasis on the words; soul music is a barely verbal form with the emphasis on the music, and the groove.

I think Ebb Jr. is trying to be provocative here and using rhetorical exaggeration as noted above. I don't think Smokey Robinson or Curtis Mayfield or other soul songwriters or country songwriters would agree

curmudgeon, Monday, 4 July 2011 02:41 (eight years ago) link

I read that sentence a few times and even asked my girlfriend what it could mean. I still have no idea what that was supposed to me. Country music doesn't have a groove? Quiet storm is all about language. Anyway I really want to read that book.

JacobSanders, Monday, 4 July 2011 03:43 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

Little writeup about him here. I knew the song Anna, but hadn't investigated him before. Lovely recording.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/02/11/arthur_alexander_and_the_beatles_forgotten_songwriter_also_inspired_the.html

Poliopolice, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:40 (six years ago) link

two months pass...

Writer/author Holly-George Warren's Muscle Shoals presentation at the EMP Pop Conference in New Orleans focussed on Arthur. Fascinating stuff from the details she gave about Arthur's life to the mention about how John Lennon loved his voice and songs.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 15:47 (six years ago) link

eight months pass...

Country music is a barely musical form with emphasis on the words

this might rate as one of the top ten stupidest things ever posted to ILM

★feminist parties i have attended (amateurist), Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:42 (five years ago) link

Some tough competition.

Wild Mountain Armagideon Thyme (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 12 January 2014 01:54 (five years ago) link

four months pass...

I just enjoyed listening to Bee Gees cover of "Everyday I Have To Cry," which I had not known existed. Now onto The McCoys version.

Ant Man Bee Thousand (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 5 June 2014 03:07 (five years ago) link

julie grant's "everyday i have to cry" is definitive for my money.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 5 June 2014 09:16 (five years ago) link

Country music is a barely musical form with emphasis on the words; soul music is a barely verbal form with the emphasis on the music, and the groove.

still the worst.

Brio2, Thursday, 5 June 2014 13:57 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

An overview from the guy who wrote the excellent biography of Arthur : http://www.richardyounger.com/arthur-alexander.php

― Another Muzak from a Diffident Lichen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, June 9, 2011 3:08 PM (five years ago)


This link has moved slightly to: http://www.richardyounger.com/author.php#.V8VmgJMrL_S

Hop on Pop. 1280 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 30 August 2016 10:55 (two years ago) link

Which links to a very interesting interview about how he came to write the book

On the zing and on the lmao (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 30 August 2016 12:28 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Even more versions of "Every Day I Have To Cry" floating around: Ike and Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Rick Nelson, to name three. Guess first recorded version was Steve Alaimo. Arthur himself didn't record it until 1975.

Another Fule Clickin’ In Your POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:54 (one week ago) link

I forgot to mention Bon Scott.

Another Fule Clickin’ In Your POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 12 August 2019 19:50 (one week ago) link


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