CLARENCE CARTER-THE FAME SINGLES VOLUME 2 1970-73.

CLARENCE CARTER-THE FAME SINGLES VOLUME 2 1970-73.

It was in 1966, that Clarence Carter released his first single for Rick Hall’s Fame Records, Tell Daddy. Clarence was already thirty when he released Tell Daddy, his debut solo single. His life had taken a few twists and turns before that. Born in January 1936, when Clarence graduated from high school, he headed to Alabama State University. In 1960, he graduated with a degree in music. After that, his musical career began in earnest. It wasn’t as a solo artist though.

Clarence was part of a duo with Calvin Scott. The pair released a string of singles between 1962 and 1965. Their debut single was 1962s I Don’t Know (School Girl), which they released as Clarence and Calvin. After that they became the C and C Boys, releasing four singles for Duke Records. Commercial success eluded them and in 1965 they left Duke Records. Down but not out, Clarence and Calvin headed to Rick Hall’s Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. There they recorded Step By Step, which was released on Atco Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. Step By Step failed to chart. Worse was to come. Calvin Scott’s wife shot him, resulting in Calvin having to retire from music temporarily. This inadvertently lead to Clarence’s debut solo single.

This was Tell Daddy, Clarence’s first single for Rick Hall’s Fame Records. Tell Daddy was the start of a string of hit singles Clarence released between 1967 and 1969. This period is documented on Kent Soul’s 2012 compilation Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 1 1966-1970. It contains singles Clarence released for Fame and Atlantic Records. Whilst this was the most successful period of Clarence’s career, there’s much more to his career than that. Much more. 

On Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973, which was recently released by Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records, continues the Clarence Carter story. This compilation covers the remainder of Clarence’s time at Atlantic Records. There’s also a quartet of tracks released on Fame, plus Clarence’s Fame singles distributed by United Artists.  Featuring twenty-two tracks, Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973 includes many tracks that have never been available on CD before. Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973 finds Clarence Carter, a giant of Southern Soul, at his soulful best. Ironically, Rick Hall wasn’t sure about signing Clarence Carter. 

It’s ironic given the commercial success Clarence Carter enjoyed, that originally, Rick Hall didn’t want to record Clarence. Rick felt that Clarence as a solo career, wasn’t an attractive proposition. Luckily, Rick changed his mind after Clarence released his debut solo single Tell Daddy. It only reached number thirty-five in the US R&B Charts, but inspired Etta James’ Tell Mama. It was then that Rick Hall realised that Clarence Carter was a hugely talented singer and songwriter.

Clarence Carter signed to Atlantic Records in 1967 and between 1967 and 1969, he enjoyed ten singles. This includes two top ten singles in the US Billboard 100 and six top ten singles in the US R&B single. Two of his singles sold over one million copies, resulting in gold singles for Clarence. His biggest hit single was 1967s Slip Away, which reached number four in the US Billboard 100 and number two in the US R&B Charts. Then in 1968, Clarence enjoyed a Christmas hit with Back Door Santa, which reached number four in the US Billboard 100. All these singles featured on Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 1 1966-1970. Its followup is Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973. 

Opening Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973, is Patches, the most successful single on the the compilation. It reached number four in the US Billboard 100 and number two in the US R&B Charts in 1970. Written by General Johnson and Ron Dunbar, Clarence rejected the song when he first heard it. After producer Rick Hall talked him round, there wasn’t even time for the lyrics to be transcribed into braille. So, Sonny Limbo whispered each line of the lyrics into Clarence’s ear. Remarkably, this worked, resulting in a heart-wrenching tale of poverty and sadness. Add to his vocal lush strings and cooing harmonies, and it’s no surprise the single was such a success. Tucked away on the B-Side to Patches is Say It One More Time. Penned by Clarence and George Jackson, Clarence’s vocal is needy and heartfelt as blues and Southern Soul unite to create a beautiful track.

It’s All In Your Mind was released in 1970, reaching just number fifty-one in the US Billboard 100 and number thirteen in the US R&B Charts in 1970. Written by George Jackson and Raymond Moore, it’s from Clarence’s album Patches. Good as the single is, I prefer the B-Side Till I Can`t Take It Anymore. Clyde Otis and Dorian Burton cowrote this track. It has an understated arrangement, where rasping horns, cooing harmonies and chiming guitars allowing Clarence’s heartfelt, hopeful vocal to take centre-stage. Clarence unleashes a vocal that sounds as if he’s lived, loved and survived the lyrics.

Red Lane penned the mini soap opera that is The Court Room. It’s a true story about a preacher accused of a sexual misdemeanour  It gave Clarence a minor hit in 1970, when it reached number sixty-one in the US Billboard 100 and number thirteen in the US R&B Charts. Dramatic and emotive, Clarence brings to life the lyrics. So much so, that you can imagine the scenes unfolding before your eyes. As for the backing vocalists, including Candi Staton, who Clarence married in 1970, play the roll of the shocked jurors perfectly and add the finishing touch. On the B-Side is Getting The Bills (But No Merchandise), penned by George Jackson and Raymond Moore epitomizes Southern Soul. The story of a lovestruck, infatuated lover it allows Clarence to unleash his powerhouse of a vocal.

Released as a single in 1971, Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love reached number eighty-four in the US Billboard 100 and number twenty-five in the US R&B Charts.  Written by George Jackson, it’s soulful, sassy and funky, with Clarence vamping his way through the lyrics, singing call and response with his backing vocalists. Similarly funky and soulful was the B-Side, I Hate To Love And Run, which features a tormented Clarence. 

Scratch My Back (And Mumble In My Ear) which was released in 1971, is a ballad where Clarence returns to his slower, more soulful sound. Despite this, it reached just number forty-one in the US R&B Charts. Written by Earl Cage, Raymond Moore and Marcel Strong, it featured a vocal masterclass from Clarence. He sounds not unlike the legendary James Carr. With an arrangement punctuated by growling horns, its Southern Soul at its best. Even the B-Side I’m The One is quality. Written by George Jackson and Raymond Moore, it’s a track that swings. That’s thanks to Clarence’s impassioned and joyous vocal. Then the addition of swathes of strings and soaring harmonies add the finishing touch to this hook-laden hidden gem.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em features Candi Staton, who between 1970 and 1973, was married to Clarence. This is a very different track. There’s a tougher, funkier sound to Clarence’s sassy, vampish vocal. Candi adds soaring, dramatic harmonies to a track that shows another side to Clarence Carter’s music. Again, I prefer the B-Side, the Mac David penned Lonesomest Lonesome. Full of hurt and heartbreak, Clarence’s vocal is wistful and melancholy, as he comes to terms with the love he’s lost. 

Having left Atlantic, where Clarence’s relationship with the company has been described as distant. Clarence felt under-appreciated. He also felt his music had been under-promoted. Back at Fame, Clarence released a blistering version of Oliver Sain’s Back In Your Arms towards the end of 1972. It reached number forty-six in the US R&B Charts. An uptempo, funky track, Clarence kicks loose. It’s as if saying to everyone at Atlantic, look what you’ve lost. Then on the B-Side Holdin´ Out (On My Baby), penned by Mickey Buckins, Clarence digs deep, delivering a heartbreaking vocal. Full of emotion, sadness and regret, he calls time on his cheating lover. So realistic is his delivery, that you’d think Clarence and been there and survived to tell the tale.

It’s a different Clarence that we find on Put On Your Shoes And Walk, his 1973 single, which reached number forty on the US R&B Charts. Clarence is confident, feisty and delivers the vocal with a swagger. It’s as if this song was tailor made for him. Ut wasn’t though. Instead it was originally recorded by Harmon Bathea. This is the definitive version, best described as soulful, funky and swaggering.Turn over to the B-Side and you’ll find I Found Somebody New, a confessional slice of Southern Soul written by Clarence. Ironically, in 1973, Clarence and Candi Staton’s marriage ended.

Mother-In Law and Sixty Minute Man were a double-sided single, taken from Clarence’s final album for Fame, the Southern Soul Sixty Minutes With Clarence Carter. Of the two tracks, sultry, sassy and suggestive Sixty Minute, which Clarence wrote, is the best of the two songs. A tale of forbidden love, Clarence adopts the role of soul seducer supreme, on a track that reached number sixty-five in the US Billboard 100 and number seventeen in the US R&B Charts. As for Mother-In Law, it was written by legendary New Orleans’ songwriter Allen Toussaint. It’s best described as a scathing sideswipe at the third person in his marriage. It reached number eighty in the US Billboard 100 and number twenty-four in the US R&B Charts. If the radio stations had chosen to play just one side, then Clarence could’ve had a huge hit on his hands.

As I’m The Midnight Special unfolds, it sounds a distant relation of Sam and Dave’s In The Midnight Hour. Instead, it was penned by Clarence, George Jackson, Alyn Mitchell and Raymond Moore. Driven along by the famous Fame rhythm section and stabs of blazing horns, Clarence rolls back the years, as Southern Soul and funk combine. This resulted in a single that reached number fifteen in the US R&B Charts. Hidden away on the flip side, is I Got Another Woman. Here, Clarence proves that confession is good for the soul, as sadness, realism and relief play their part in a hidden gem about love gone wrong.

Love’s Trying To Come To You was the last single Clarence released for Fame. Released in 1973 as a single, it failed to chart. Written by George Jackson, the combination of bluesy horns and harmonies result in a real hidden gem that’s wistful, thoughtful and beautiful. Over on the B-Side was Heartbreak Woman, written by Mark James. Produced by Rick Hall and Clarence this heartbreaking song bookends Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973 perfectly.

For anyone yet to discover Clarence Carter, then Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973 and its predecessor Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 1 1967-1970 are the perfect place to start. Volume 1 was released in 2012, while Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973 was released recently, by Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Lovingly compiled by Dean Rudland, who wrote the sleeve-notes, this is what a compilation should be like. What do I mean by that? Well, there’s twenty-two tracks, plus a lavish, twelve-page booklet, crammed full of information about Clarence Carter and his music. However, what really makes Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973 is the music.

One of the giants of Southern Soul, Rick Hall’s decision to sign Clarence was vindicated. Between 1966 and 1973, Clarence was one of the most successful acts Rick Hall discovered. While Candi Staton was the first Lady of of Fame Records, her one-time husband, Clarence Carter was one of the most successful male artists. A hugely talented singer and songwriter, Clarence Carter could breath life, emotion and meaning into a song. The lyrics come to life, with Clarence sounding as if he’s lived and survived the tales of love, and love gone wrong. It’s no wonder Clarence enjoyed such success.

Accompanying Clarence were some of the greatest musicians of the sixties and seventies. Collectively, they were known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. They provided the heartbeat for numerous Southern Soul classics. Then there’s the backing vocalists, who included Candi Staton. Add to this are a whole host of staff songwriters, including George Jackson. The final piece of the jigsaw, was the man with the Midas touch, producer Rick Hall, who owned Fame. He produced Clarence for Fame, Atlantic and then Fame, once again. When Clarence Carter is added to the equation, musical magic happens. This musical magic resulted in the most successful period of Clarence Carter’s career. 

Following Clarence Carter’s time at Fame, he never enjoyed the same commercial success. Undeterred he continued to release albums and played live. He’s enjoyed a long and successful career, and 2012, marked the fiftieth anniversary of his first single. Since then, Clarence Carter has released around thirty albums. However, the best music of his career is the music he recorded at Fame Studios with Rick Hall. This includes the twenty-two tracks on Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-1973, which along with Clarence Carter-The Fame Singles Volume 1 1967-1970, which are the perfect introduction to a giant of Southern Soul, Clarence Carter. Standout Tracks: Patches, Scratch My Back (And Mumble In My Ear), Lonesomest Lonesome and I Got Another Woman. 

CLARENCE CARTER-THE FAME SINGLES VOLUME 2 1970-73.

The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-73

The Fame Singles Volume 2 1970-73

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