Jimmy Hughes

The Best of Jimmy Hughes

It only takes a verse and chorus of “I Worship the Ground You Walk
On” to realize that Jimmy Hughes is one of the most criminally
overlooked early maestros of the soul music explosion. This Alabama
singer’s testifying tenor hits that rare and perfect spot where solemn
churchiness and juke-joint grit meet. Here’s a long overdue collection
that proves Hughes’ 1964 hit “Steal Away” might not even be the best
record he ever cut.

Evidence Hughes’ deeply gospel inflection on “Stormy Monday Blues,”
his conflicted passion on “Midnight Affair,” or the easy sway of “Too
Much,” and his superbly funky take on the standard “High Heeled
Sneakers.” The Best of Jimmy Hughes does more than tell the story of
this guy who quit his job at the rubber factory to tour with the likes
of Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, only to give up on his musical career
by the mid-1970s. This also is the story of Fame Records founder Rick
Hall and his dedication to music he believed in. And here too is the
story of the famed Muscle Shoals sound, which was born and nurtured at
Fame Recording Studios. The liner notes tell a skeleton story of how
Hall launched Fame and refused to give up on getting a hit out of
Hughes. A few more pieces to complete the backstory puzzle would be
nice. Still, that’s a small gripe.

The eighteen tracks found here ultimately tell the story better than
any insert booklet ever could. And if you’re wondering: Hughes is alive
and well in Alabama, enjoying his second glimmer of stardom. (Fame
Records/EMI)

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