JACKIE WILSON-NYC 1961-1966.

JACKIE WILSON-NYC 1961-1966.

1957 was a landmark year in Jackie Wilson’s career. That’s when Jackie Wilson left Billy Ward and His Dominoes, to embark upon a solo career.

Previously, Jackie Wilson had spent four years with Billy Ward and His Dominoes. He was only nineteen when he joined Billy Ward and His Dominoes in 1953. Already Jackie Wilson had a chequered past. 

Twice, Jack Leroy Wilson, Jr. had spent time in the Lansing Corrections system for juveniles. That was where a sixteen year old Jackie Wilson first took up boxing. Soon, he was a promising amateur boxer. His Golden Gloves record was 2 and 8. However, his mother didn’t like the thought of her son boxing. So, she forced Jack to turn his back on boxing. Jack’s nascent career was over, before it had even started. That was maybe just as well.

By the time Jack turned seventeen, he was married with a child. Jack was now working at Lee’s Sensation Club as a solo singer. This was no surprise. Like many soul singers, Jack had first sung in church. Music had always been part of his life. It would be a constant throughout the future Jackie Wilson’s life.

After starting his career as a solo singer, Jack and his cousin Levi Stubbs, formed a group called The Falcons. However, before long, talent agent Johnny Otis discovered Jack. 

Johnny Otis convinced Jack to join The Thrillers. They would later, change their name to The Royals. By then, Jack was long gone.

In 1953, Clyde McPhatter left Billy Ward and His Dominoes, to form his own group, The Drifters. This presented a problem for Billy Ward. Clyde McPhatter, not Billy Ward was the lead singer of Billy Ward and His Dominoes. He had played an important part in the rise of Billy Ward and His Dominoes. So, they were big shoes to fill. Little did anyone expect Jack Leroy Wilson, Jr. an almost unknown, to replace Clyde McPhatter. That however, was the case.

When Jack joined Billy Ward and His Dominoes, he thought that Jack needed a stage name. It had to be a name would fit the group’s image. So Jack Leroy Wilson, Jr. became Jackie Wilson. This was just the start of the reinvention of Jack Leroy Wilson, Jr.

The next four years were like a musical apprenticeship for Jackie Wilson. Billy Ward was the consummate professional. He was also a strict disciplinarian, who expected members of his band to act in a professional manner. If they didn’t, they risked being fined. For Jackie, this was what he needed. It would transform his life and career. His wild days were behind him.

For the next four years, Jackie Wilson picked up where Clyde McPhatter. During what was akin to a musical apprenticeship, Billy Ward helped mould Jackie Wilson. He learnt the art of showmanship, which would later see Jackie crowned Mr. Excitement. Sadly, during this period, Billy Ward and His Dominoes were no longer enjoying the same success. They weren’t able to replicate the success they enjoyed with Clyde McPhatter at the helm. So, in 1957, after four years with Billy Ward and His Dominoes, Jackie Wilson felt that it was time to embark upon a solo career.

Having left Billy Ward and His Dominoes, Jackie Wilson signed to Brunswick, a subsidiary of Decca Records. It was at Brunswick where Jackie Wilson enjoyed the most successful period of his career. During his time at Brunswick, Jackie Wilson released around fifty singles and twenty-five solo albums. There were also collaborations with Linda Hopkins and Count Basie. Jackie Wilson, it seemed, was a truly prolific artist. So, it’s no surprise that not all of the music Jackie Wilson recorded, has been released.

Even thirty-one years after Jackie Wilson’s untimely death in 1984, there’s still plenty music within Brunswick’s vaults. For fans of Jackie Wilson this has always been a tantalising prospect. They’ve always wondered what hidden gems are awaiting discovery? Recently, Ace Records were able to answer that question when they released a two disc compilation NYC 1961-1966. 

The best way to describe NYC 1961-1966, is a musical treasure trove. It features fifty tracks.They’re a mixture of unreleased tracks and alternate takes. There’s also album tracks and collaborations with Lavern Baker and Linda Hopkins. Then there Rob Hughes’ lengthy and informative sleeve-notes. They tell the story of the music on NYC 1961-1966. However, Jackie Wilson’s time at Brunswick began four years earlier, in 1957.

Having signed to Brunswick in 1957, Jackie Wilson released his debut single for his new label, Reet Petite. This was the first of fifty singles Jackie released on Brunswick. Reet Petite stalled at number sixty-two in the US Billboard 100 charts. This was an inauspicious start to Jackie career at Brunswick. Little did anyone realise, that in the future, many would regard Reet Petite as a soul classic. 

The followup to Reet Petite was To Be Loved. It was released later in 1957, reaching number twenty-two in the US Billboard 100 charts and number seven in the US R&B charts. Jackie’s career was up and running. 

A year later, Jackie enjoyed the first number one  US R&B single of his career. Jackie hit the jackpot with Lonely Teardrops. It reached number one in the US Billboard 100 charts and number seven in the US R&B charts. Jackie also released his debut single, He’s So Fine. Suddenly, people were taking notice of Jackie Wilson.

Soon, one became two in 1959, when Jackie enjoyed another number one with You Better Know It. It reached number thirty-seven in the US Billboard 100 charts and number one in the US R&B charts. Jackie released two albums during 1959, So Much and Lonely Teardrops. Already he was prolific artist. So, as another decade dawned, many thought that Jackie Wilson would become one of the biggest soul singers of the sixties.

It looked that way. 1960 proved to be the most successful year of Jackie’s career. He enjoyed five hit singles. Two of these singles reached number one in the US R&B charts. A Woman, A Lover, A Friend, which became the title of Jackie’s first album of 1960, reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 100 charts and number one in the US R&B charts. Incredibly, so did Doggin’ Around, a track from Jackie’s album Jackie Sings The Blues. After Doggin’ Around topped the US R&B charts, Am I The Man reached number ten. It seemed Jackie Wilson could do no wrong. 

For Jackie, 1961 was pretty much business as usual. He enjoyed three hit singles. The Tear Of The Year and I’m Coming Back To You reached the top ten in the US R&B charts. However, Jackie was losing his crossover appeal. My Empty Arms reached number nine in the US Billboard 100. I’m Coming Back To You the reached number nineteen. After I’m Coming Back To You, Jackie only enjoyed four hit singles in the US Billboard 100 charts. To make matters worse, the hits were drying up for Jackie.

1962 was the least successful year of Jackie Wilson’s five year solo career. The hits dried up. The only small crumb of comfort was that Jackie Wilson At The Copa charted. This was a first. Although Jackie Wilson At The Copa was Jackie’s ninth album, none of the previous eight had bothered the charts. Even Jackie Wilson At The Copa reached just number 137 in the US Billboard 200. So, 1962 was more or less a year to forget for Jackie Wilson. However, Jackie’s luck began to change.

In 1963, Jackie found himself back at the top of the US R&B charts with Baby Workout. It reached number five in the US Billboard 100. Later in 1963, Jackie released the most successful album of his career, Baby Workout. When it reached number thirty-six in the US Billboard 200, it looked like Jackie’s luck was changing. That proved not to be the case.

For the next three years, the hits dried up again for Jackie. Right through to 1966, Jackie was a stranger to the US Billboard 100 and US R&B charts. Then in 1966, Jackie’s luck changed for the better.

Whispers (Gettin’ Louder) was released as a single in 1966. It reached number eleven in the US Billboard 100 and number five in the US R&B charts. Jackie’s Whispers album then reached number 108 in the US Billboard 200 and number fifteen in the US R&B charts. This marked the return of Jackie Wilson.

Jackie Wilson hit a musical home run in 1967. That’s when he released his classic single, (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. Not only did it reach number six in the US Billboard 100, but reached number one in the US R&B charts. It inspired the title of Jackie’s 1967 album Higher and Higher, which reached number 163 in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty-eight in the US R&B charts. For Jackie, 1967 had been another successful year. His comeback continued. However, never again would he enjoy a number one single.

That’s despite Jackie releasing what many regard as one of his finest songs in 1968, I Get the Sweetest Feeling. It reached just number thirty-four in the US Billboard 100 and number twelve in the US R&B charts. When Jackie released then his I Get the Sweetest Feeling album, it failed to chart. However, his Do Your Thing album reached number fifty in the US R&B charts later in 1968. This proved to be the end of era.

Never again would a Jackie Wilson album chart. It seemed many regarded Mr. Excitement as yesterday’s man. He certainly never enjoyed another hit in the US Billboard 100 charts. For Jackie, I Get the Sweetest Feeling was his swan-song. Indeed, in America Jackie only ever enjoyed one more hit single.

As Jackie embarked upon the third decade of his recording career, he released This Love Is for Real (I Can Feel These Vibrations) as a single. It peaked at number nine in the US R&B charts. That’s as good as it would get for Jackie Wilson in America. 

Although Jackie Wilson continued to release albums for Brunswick right through to 1976, never again would he scale the same heights. However, forty-five years after Jackie Wilson’s final American hit single, he’s still regarded by some, as one of the biggest names in soul music.

So, Ace Records release of their two disc NYC 1961-1966 compilation, will be welcomed by many fans of Mr. Excitement. Especially given there’s a plethora of rarities and unreleased tracks on both discs.

Disc One.

On disc one of NYC 1961-1966, there’s twenty-four tracks. This includes ten previously unreleased tracks. Among the highlights of the unreleased tracks are Me, My Mother’s Son, All My Lovin’, I Can’t Stand Another (Hurt In My Heart), Change Me and Hold Me, Need Me. Apart from unreleased tracks, there’s alternate takes.

On disc one, there’s a trio of alternate take. The earliest alternate take was Twisting and Shoutin’ (Doing The Monkey). It was recorded for Jackie’s Somethin’ Else album in 1964. This version didn’t make the cut. Other alternate takes include She’s All Right and Big Boss Line. She’s All Right was recorded in March 1964. Four months later, Jackie recorded Big Boss Line in August 1964. Since then, these tracks have never been released..until Ace Records released NYC 1961-1966. 

That’s also the case with the unedited version of Soul Galore. It was recorded fifty years ago, in 1965. It was meant to be the title-track to Jackie’s 1965 album. That wasn’t to be. Instead, it makes its debut on NYC 1961-1966. However, there’s more to disc one than unreleased tracks and alternate takes.

There’s also Jackie’s collaborations with Laverne Baker, Think Twice and Please Don’t Hurt Me (I’ve Never Been In Love Before). Although Please Don’t Hurt Me (I’ve Never Been In Love Before) was released in 1965, this version of Think Twice been released before. This is another reason why NYC 1961-1966 will appeal to Jackie Wilson completists. However, they’ll be familiar with some of the other tracks.

This includes some of Jackie’s singles. There’s No Pity (In The Naked City) and I Believe I’ll Love On, which were released in 1965. A year later, Jackie released 3 Days 1 Hour 30 Minutes in 1966. While it failed to chart, it’s something of a hidden gem, and is a welcome inclusion on NYC 1961-1966. It’s not alone.

That’s also the case with Silent One. It wasn’t released until 1987. It was released on one of Jackie’s posthumous albums. The reissue of Silent One is yet another welcome inclusion on disc one of NYC 1961-1966, that’s a reminder of the man many called Mr. Magnificent.

Just like the unreleased tracks and alternate takes, the singles and collaborations show Jackie Wilson evolving and maturing as a singer. So do the twenty-six tracks on disc two of NYC 1961-1966.

Disc Two.

Just like disc one of NYC 1961-1966, disc two features a mixture of unreleased tracks, alternate takes, singles and collaborations. This includes Jackie’s collaborations Linda Hopkins.

During his career, Jackie Wilson collaborated with a number of artists. This included Laverne Baker, Linda Hopkins and later, Count Basie. In 1962, Jackie and Linda Hopkins duetted on the single I Found Love, which featured There’s Nothing Like Love on the B-Side. The single was released later in 1962. This proved a successful pairing. 

So a year later, on 28th February 1963, Brunswick brought Jackie and Linda back into the studio. They recorded Shake A Hand as a single. For the B-Side, Say I Do was chosen. It would later prove a favourite amongst R&B fans. Sadly, Shake A Hand didn’t replicate the success of I Found Love. However, it wouldn’t put Jackie of collaborating. He would later collaborate with Count Basie. Before that, Jackie had a lot of music to record.

Throughout his career, Jackie Wilson was a prolific artist. So, it’s no surprise that there’s still plenty of music in Brunswick’s vaults. This includes eleven tracks on disc two of NYC 1961-1966. Among their highlights are Love (Is Where You Find It), The Dancing Man and The Test Of Time. 

That’s not all. There’s a trio of tracks from  session in 1962. On 7th August 1962, Jackie recorded three tracks in New York. This includes I Hurt So Bad (Somebody Help Me), Tears (Don’t Mind Who Cries Them) and Baby That’s All. Jackie unleashes three emotive performances, pouring part of himself into the tracks. Sadly, these tracks were never released. That’s also the case with Shake! Shake! Shake! which Jackie recorded on 28th February 1963. The version on NYC 1961-1966 is an alternate take, and finds Jackie heading to the dance-floor. However, one of the most interesting inclusions in the version of Jackie’s 1963 number one US R&B single Baby Workout. This version is take seven, features a false start. This shows another side to one of Jackie’s best known tracks.

While many of the tracks on disc two of NYC 1961-1966 are unreleased tracks, there’s four singles included. This includes 1961s Years From Now, which was paired with My Empty Arms. A year later, in 1962, Jackie released What Good Am I Without You? as a single. It failed to chart. So did I Just Can’t Take It, which was paired with My Tale Of Woe. During this period, Jackie was going through one of several lean periods he endured. These four singles fall into the category of hidden gems, and are a reminder of what Jackie Wilson was capable of. That’s the case throughout NYC 1961-1966, which was recently released by Ace Records.

During the five year period, which NYC 1961-1966 covers, Jackie Wilson was one of the hardest working men in soul music. The recording studio was like a second home for Jackie. Sadly, Jackie’s efforts weren’t rewarded.

Between 1961 and 1966, Jackie Wilson only enjoyed three hits in the US Billboard charts. Jackie faired slightly better in the US R&B charts. He enjoyed four hit singles, including a number one single with Baby Workout. It was the biggest selling single of Jackie’s career. However, that was as good as it got for Jackie.

The problem was, that during the period NYC 1961-1966 covers, music was changing, and changing fast. With the British Invasion, psychedelia and rock taking America by storm, suddenly, singers like Jackie Wilson seemed liked yesterday’s men. Some of Jackie’s old fans turned their back on him. 

They were won over by a new generation of artists. This included a new breed of soul singers. Singers like Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, James Carr and Sam and Dave were making a name for themselves. So was two recent graduates of Motown, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. The competition amongst soul singers was fierce. Jackie Wilson didn’t walk away from a challenge.

Between 1966 and 1968, his career enjoyed an Indian Summer. Sadly, two years later, Jackie Wilson enjoyed his final hit single, This Love Is for Real (I Can Feel These Vibrations). It peaked at number nine in the US R&B charts. That was good as it got for Jackie Wilson in America. 

Although Jackie Wilson continued to release albums for Brunswick right through to 1976, never again would he scale the same heights. However, forty-five years after Jackie Wilson’s final American hit single, he’s still regarded by some, as one of the biggest names in soul music.

While other soul singers are long forgotten, Jackie Wilson is still seen by some as a giant of soul. He was one of the most talented and prolific soul singers of his generation. The man they call Mr. Excitement released around fifty singles and twenty-five albums. However, there’s still much more music awaiting discover within the Brunswick vaults. That included the fifty songs that found their way onto NYC 1961-1966.

Recently, Ace Records released their two disc NYC 1961-1966 compilation. It features fifty tracks from Jackie Wilson. NYC 1961-1966 features a plethora of singles, album cuts, alternate takes and unreleased tracks. The fifty tracks on NYC 1961-1966, are a reminder why, many people called Jackie Wilson, Mr. Excitement.

JACKIE WILSON-NYC 1961-1966.

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