Phillip Upchurch – 1972 – Darkness, Darkness

Rip and research by Mr.Moo Review  by AMG

Posting and adittional info’s by Nikos

Plenty of darkness here from Phil Upchurch – those great tones and notes he worked so well back in the 70s – all with that near-perfect quality that made him one of the most in-demand players of his day! The style here is a bit different than some of Phil’s previous work in Chicago – as the set was recorded on the west coast with support from players who include Joe Sample on piano, Arthur Adams on rhythm guitar, Chuck Rainey on bass, and Harvey Mason on drums. But that shift of locale hasn’t dampened Phil’s sound at all – and he’s still getting a bit of hometown help from Donny Hathaway, who arranged a few tracks and also plays a bit of electric piano on the record. Other arrangements are by Nick DeCaro, and titles include “Love & Peace”, “Darkness, Darkness”, “Cold Sweat”, and “Inner City Blues”.

Darkness, Darkness 9:35
Fire and Rain 7:35
What We Call the Blues 6:35
Cold Sweat 6:35
Please Send Me Someone to Love 5:07
Inner City Blues 6:42
You`ve Got a Friend 8:39
Love and Peace 5:24
Swing Low Sweet Chariot 6:36
Sausalito Blues 4:05

Recorded in 1971, shortly after he departed Cadet Records in Chicago where he served as a prime sideman to both Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler, guitar king Phil Upchurch headed for the West Coast and Blue Thumb Records. Produced by Tommy LiPuma, Upchurch‘s Darkness, Darkness is his quintessential (double) album, full of laid-back funky grooves, elegant, mind-blowing guitar work, and in-the-pocket string and horn arrangements (as well as some fine Fender Rhodes work) from Donny Hathaway with legendary session bassist Chuck Rainey and smooth jazz piano great Joe Sample in the house. Upchurch is one of the rare guitarists who can walk the line of jazz, blues, rock, soul, and funk and fold them all into one another without sacrificing anything in the process, and that is displayed on countless occasions here. On the cover of the Youngbloods on the title track, Upchurch leaves all the fuzz tone and distortion of his early work behind him for the shimmering cleanliness of the West Coast sound. He gets the dirty grooves through the notes, not the effects, bringing out a funkier side of the Jesse Colin Young tune than its author ever knew existed. Hathaway’s spare, tasty muted horn arrangements follow in counterpoint to the melody, creating an extended harmony that acts almost as another voice. On “Fire and Rain“, the James Taylor nugget that was a current hit, Upchurch begins tenderly, wringing the melody slowly and purposefully from the guitar before the keyboards and strings reach in and grab hold of it. Forced to respond, he chunks up with large Wes Montgomery-styled chords and knotty fills for the piano and horn lines, cascading like water in the background. He increases the tempo and turns it out as a funky soul tune, resonating with the haunting melodic invention that brings it back to its rooted, poignant lyric. And while these tunes signify Upchurch as capable of turning even the most melancholy of folk tunes into funk-driven boogaloos, it’s on the soul tunes where he shines brightest.

His covers of James Brown‘s “Cold Sweat“, Percy Mayfield‘s “Please Send Me Someone to Love“, and Marvin Gaye‘s “Inner City Blues” carry the record into the pop stratosphere. While the rock music was danceable and inspiring to begin with and was reinvented both structurally and emotionally by Upchurch‘s playing, it’s when he digs into classic R&B material that things really start to happen. He plays with so much soul and sticky groove that he wrings every sweat-drenched ounce of emotion from these songs and turns them into anthems of funky transcendence. There isn’t anything extra in his silky approach, but there is a profound knowledge of when to move and when to slip, slide, and groove through these charts that is a trademark for Upchurch. No one could take a raw tune like “Cold Sweat“, smooth it out, an still give it the tough, minimal, feeling read that Upchurch does here. His fingers are flying all over the place but are never outside the reach of the rhythm section. Never. Darkness, Darkness is the soul-jazz album of 1971 to beat, and one of the finest albums of its genre ever released. Upchurch is a genius and this album proves it beyond doubt.

Buy it




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  1. Robert says:

    A wonderful experience!

  2. Curtis says:

    THANKS AGAIN !!!!!!!

  3. Dexter says:

    Amazing. This blog rocks.

  4. Arsen says:

    Can’t wait for it.

  5. Debbie says:

    Thank you, I did not think I would ever find this album.

  6. whoknows says:

    Incredible! Haven’t heard this one yet, THANKS AGAIN n AGAIN!!!

  7. greg says:

    Interesting… thanks :)

  8. Grumpy says:

    Nice one! Thanks!
    Also for all those other posts btw. ;)

  9. rich says:

    thank u mr. moo and nikos for this wonderful album

  10. brianbrora says:

    It’s fascinating to think that this is the same guy who gave us that great instrumental ”You Can’t sit down now” in the mid 1960s.

  11. brianbrora says:

    If anyone would like the ”You Can’t Sit Down..” LP, it’s on my own blog. You’ll need to email me for an invite.

  12. Freddie says:

    A nice surprise. Never heard of him.

  13. Dawson says:

    Really kind to hear that. I like so much the style :)

  14. Chris44 says:

    I need this record. AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. philo says:

    Interesting take on my favorite Youngbloods song.

  16. K34S says:

    You have the best collection and taste in music.

  17. horstenpeter says:

    Thank you for this, and thank you for all the work you’re doing on this blog! I’ve been coming back here again and again for years and I’ve discovered so much great music through you.

  18. Nic says:

    Great. Thanks

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