Arthur Alexander – 1972 – Arthur Alexander
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While Arthur Alexander made a name for himself as a songwriter and vocalist in the early ’60s, he was best known for the hits other folks had enjoyed with his songs (among them the Beatles and the Rolling Stones), while his performing career hit an unfortunate slump by the end of the decade. Alexander been out of the public eye for a few years when he scored a deal with Warner Brothers and cut a self-titled album in 1972. Alexander had great faith in the project, which was produced by Tommy Cogbill and featured the cream of the Muscle Shoals studio players, along with songwriting contributions from Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts, and Alexander himself.
Sadly, the album flopped in the marketplace, but a listen to the results confirms this was the fault of the promotion men, not the artists; hitting a mid-point between deep Southern soul and country-leaning funk, Arthur Alexander showed he had only grown stronger and more impressive as a singer over the decade, and his songs, built from simple stories of love and loss, never failed to hit the home truth (it’s a wonder that no one was able to pitch tracks like “In the Middle of It All” or “Love’s Where Life Begins” to some of the more imaginative country acts in Nashville — imagine George Jones wrapping his voice around either). Cogbill’s production was rich but uncluttered with a deeply Southern feel, and the album won a richly deserved cult following among soul enthusiasts. After Alexander’s unfortunate death in 1993, Warner Brothers released a retrospective CD, Rainbow Road: The Warner Bros. Recordings, which featured most of the cuts from the album, along with several single sides and unreleased tracks Alexander cut for the label; in either form, this is beautiful, heart-wrenching music that no one with a heart and a soul can walk away from without feeling its impact.