Tuesday, May 31, 2005
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Jackie Wilson was just the formidable soul shouter responsible for Reet Petite, Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher, Soul Galore and other such bonafide floor-filling, but overplayed numbers.
This track, released in the early seventies, is however a slab of solid funk, propelled by hard-bitten supertight horns, scratchy guitar and some very sweet percussion.
Signing with Brunswick in 1957, and staying witht the label for the duration of his life, Wilson's first claim to fame was the Berry Gordy & Billy Davis-penned Reet Petite. Gordy went on to use his royalties from the 9 songs he co-wrote for Wilson to fund Hitsville USA Studios, later to become a small struggling label more popularly known as Motown.
Wilson lived and played hard, churning out hit after hit for his manager Nat Tarnopol, while also managing to get shot by Juanita Jones, who he was two-timing his girlfriend with. He spent the rest of his life with a bullet lodged near his spine, one kidney, and a permanent limp.
Pursued by the IRS, divorced by his wife, Wilson was then caught with two white girls in a motel in South Carolina, with drummer Jimmy Smith. In a bid to stave off salacious headlines, Tarnopol arranged for him to marry his girlfriend Harlean Harris.
And yet despite all this philandering, Wilson a year later put out the unstoppable exultation of Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher & Higher & I Get The Sweetest Feeling.
Shake A Leg, recorded in 1973 defies any critic who said we'd seen the last of this colossal talent.
Wilson collapsed on stage with a heart attack, and spent the next 8 1/2 years in a coma which he never awoke from.