Main Review by mag1c_hands
Rip & Research by Mr.Moo Posting and additional info’s by Nikos
A real change for Chuck Jackson! This album is the singer’s first on Motown – and it’s a striking departure from his earlier work on the Wand label, which was often done in a classier, more polished soul style that was more in keeping with the uptown mode of Wand’s New York production. This one’s in a much deeper soul style – with elements of southern production, and more of a hard soul sound that brings out a raspy edge in Chuck’s vocals, and makes him sound a bit like Tyrone Davis. He covers tracks like “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever“, “Can I Change My Mind“, and “The Chokin Kind” – very much in the manner of the original rougher soul versions. In fact, the “Goin’ Back to Jackson” tag seems to be a reference to the south – or at least to the “Jackson”, Mississippi that was often referenced in that 60s song.
A1 Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever 2:56
A2 You Keep Running Away 3:20
A3 Honey Come Back 3:15
A4 Are You Lonely for Me 2:58
A5 Can You Feel It, Babe 3:16
A6 Cry Like a Baby 2:56
B1 The Day My World Stood Still 3:01
B2 No More Water in the Well 2:35
B3 I’d Still Love You 2:44
B4 Can I Change My Mind 3:00
B5 The Chokin’ Kind 2:46
B6 Rosalind 2:59
Chuck Jackson must have been a really weird fit for Motown. Top brand acquires top talent, despite the obvious apples/oranges implications. His tenure at Wand was mainly filled with well-done Iceman ballad stylings with the odd Northern track (“Chains of Love”) thrown in for giggles. But just like the Iceman himself making a pair of brilliant albums in Philly, this album works extremely well.
I would have to imagine that Chuck did something wrong in his interview with Berry Gordy. Maybe he didn’t seem too thrilled at the prospect of putting 2 white teenagers kissing on a beach on the album cover. Maybe he went on and on about how much he liked the new Isley Brothers single on T-Neck and how they’re doing so well now. In any event, Berry did not stack this album with song-writing talent. 2 Smokey songs, 1 H-D-H, 1 Ashford/Simpson, 1 Stevie Wonder, and then some other guys. No producer’s credit either. Needless to say this does not sound like a 1969 Motown album.
The album starts off well enough with a Bert Berns song but then sidesteps into a big heaping pile of Jimmy Webb. I like bits of the first Fifth Dimension album. Other than that, I think his songs are firmly in the schmaltzy pathos category and one of the worst things to happen to soul music (other than Bobby Womack) was the endless assembly line of “Witchita Lineman” covers. (Oh, you’re a lineman for the county? Shut up already and fix the power lines then.) “Honey Come Back” is another stinker in this category and temporarily derails the momentum.
Things pick up with a solid version of “Cry Like a Baby“. Side 2 is the real stormer, however. An interesting cover of Tyrone Davis’ “Can I Change My Mind” is great, even if the trademark jangly guitar is slightly buried. “I’d Still Love You” follows and, whoa, fuzz guitar! Ominous spoken intro leads into the best production on the album. Again, I would love to know who produced this cut, as it’s definitely not Norman Whitfield territory but it’s close. “The Day My World Stood Still” is a wonderful little sleeper that opens up into a dramatically darker bridge featuring swirling strings and woodblocks with an ersatz flamenco feel and a Chuck Jackson vocal that is certainly up for the challenge. It’s the kind of staggeringly effective minor key bridge that was more common to UK psych (just replace the ersatz flamenco with ersatz Middle Eastern). A baffling little excursion that I can’t get enough of. “No More Water in the Well” is the only track that sounds even remotely like a standard Motown production, even if it is propelled by an electric harpsichord.
Motown may not have given a lot of effort and attention to Chuck Jackson, but you should. Plus he looks pretty suave in that turtleneck. He certainly looks better than I do in them.