Arthur Alexander is not nearly as well known as his influence suggests he should be. His songs have been covered by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. He also helped found FAME studios, the Muscle Shoals, Alabama-based studio in which Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and many more recorded. Alexander's 1972 self-titled album has now been reissued by Omnivore recordings, including six bonus tracks.
This was a 'comeback album' after a bit of a career slump in the late '60s, and his sound was appropriately updated from the early '60s pop/R&B of his first album, 1962's You Better Move On, to the country-tinged Southern soul displayed here.
Arthur Alexander is one of those unsung heroes of rock ‘n’ roll who influenced a generation of great artists but is relatively unknown. His works were covered by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, and many other famous stars. However, while Alexander is often considered an antecedent to these luminaries, he was actually a contemporary around the same age as them.
While Arthur Alexander made a name for himself as a songwriter and vocalist in the early '60s, he was best known for the hits other folks had enjoyed with his songs (among them the Beatles and the Rolling Stones), while his performing career hit an unfortunate slump by the end of the decade. Alexander been out of the public eye for a few years when he scored a deal with Warner Brothers and cut a self-titled album in 1972. Alexander had great faith in the project, which was produced by Tommy Cogbill and featured the cream of the Muscle Shoals studio players, along with songwriting contributions from Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts, and Alexander himself.
By 1972, Arthur Alexander had a pretty impressive résumé. In the preceding decade, he'd recorded a string of R&B hits including the classic "You Better Move On." The Beatles covered his song "Anna (Go To Him)"; Dusty Springfield, The Bee Gees, The McCoys and Ike and Tina Turner covered "Every Day I Have To Cry." And The Hollies, The Moody Blues, and The Rolling Stones covered "You Better Move On." That track record certainly suggested that his 1972 self-titled LP would be tremendous. It was, after all, a comeback album of sorts.
A weekly look at must-hear music from The Times' staff. This week, we focus on new albums that dig into the past. Muddy Waters & the Rolling Stones, Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1981" (Eagle Records) A group of blues fans did what any self-respecting aficionados of the genre would do when in the vicinity of Chicago back in 1981: make the pilgrimage to catch Muddy Waters performing, in this case at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge.
WILSON PICKETT and Bobby Womack were two of a kind. Both were raised in their local churches and on the gospel circuit, both led groups, the former The Violinaires and The Falcons, the latter The Womack Brothers and The Valentinos; and both were solo success stories. Pickett finding huge success in the 60s - often with songs penned by Womack - while Bobby made it big the following decade.