Before the release of Don't Give Up on Love, Don Bryant had cemented his place as a footnote in soul music history, enjoying his greatest success as a songwriter. He placed "I Got to Know" with the "5" Royales in 1960, when the trailblazing R&B group (originators of "Dedicated to the One I Love") was on the downward slide. In the '70s he collaborated with Ann Peebles, who became his wife; one of the songs they composed together was her classic "I Can't Stand the Rain." Bryant's own recordings for Hi Records in the second half of the '60s were the product of a competent, not particularly distinctive singer, who drew on Joe Tex, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett for inspiration and scored no hits.
Dedicated to wife Ann Peebles, Don't Give Up on Love is Don Bryant's first secular album since 1969, the same year he placed a co-writing credit on This Is Ann Peebles. Bryant also recorded several singles for Hi Records during the latter half of the '60s, but he settled into penning songs for other artists and spun some gold with his partner, exemplified by "I Can't Stand the Rain." Long after Bryant devoted all his musical energy to the church, Hi Rhythm Section drummer Howard Grimes persuaded the singer to perform with him in the Bo-Keys. Bryant's return to R&B felt so right that it led to Don't Give Up on Love.
DON BRYANT's Don't Give Up On Love (***** Fat Possum) really deserves those five stars. Like Solomon Burke's similarly-titled Don't Give Up On Me, it captures the 74-year-old singer/songwriter in rich voice and revisiting his Memphis roots. Bryant was a key player in the formation of the Hi Records sound. As a vocalist, he issued 1969's Precious Soul, a great record reissued by Fat Possum in 2012.