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Mel & Tim ‎- 1972 – Starting All Over Again

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Mel & Tim were a classic Chicago soul vocal duo, recording in Muscle Shoals in the deep South for Stax and making records that fit comfortably next to those made in Philadelphia. It may sound incongruous, but their 1972 album, Starting All Over Again is a wonderful record that blends the sweet production of Philly with tight southern rhythms and Windy City harmony.

And that’s not even mentioning an impeccable set of songs; many written or co-written by Phillip Mitchell, along with sharp covers of soul classics like “Wrap It Up” and “I’m Your Puppet“. The title track is a stone masterpiece — an epic tale of a couple trying to repair their love — but the rest of the album isn’t far behind. In fact, it ranks as one of the finest soul albums of the early ’70s.

A1 Don’t Mess With My Money, My Honey Or My Woman 3:38
A2 Starting All Over Again 4:05
A3 I May Not Be What You Want 3:07
A4 Carry Me 3:43
A5 Free For All 2:38
B1 Heaven Knows 3:52
B2 Wrap It Up 2:31
B3 What’s Your Name 2:52
B4 I’m Your Puppet 2:58
B5 Too Much Wheelin’ And Dealin’ 2:48

Holly Springs, Mississippi cousins Melvin McArthur Hardin and Hubert Timothy McPherson took their Soul/Funk duet act of Mel & Tim to Chicago in the late 1960s, together with a healthy supply of songs they had written, to record for the small Bamboo Records label owned by Hardin’s mother Yolanda, who had a distribution arrangement with the much larger Scepter Records, home of Dionne Warwick among others.

Their first release, and one they had written some time earlier called I’ve Got Puredee went nowhere on Bamboo 106 b/w an instrumental version of the same song, but the follow-up Backfield In Motion turned out to be their best hit of six, reaching # 3 R&B and # 10 Billboard Pop Hot 100 in October/November 1969 on Bamboo 107 b/w Do Right Baby, both of which they also composed. That was produced by Gene Chandler (of Duke Of Earl fame) as was the follow-up Good Guys Only Win In The Movies, which didn’t fare nearly as well, peaking at # 17 R&B/# 45 Hot 100 in in February 1970 b/w I Found That Was Wrong on Bamboo 109.

None of the next three 1970 releases could make any national charts and after Bamboo folded its tent that year the duo moved on to Stax Records, first launched in Memphis in 1957 by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (ST + AX hence Stax). Appropriately, their first release there was Starting All Over Again (written by Phillip Mitchell) and it became their second best hit by finishing at # 4 R&B and # 19 Hot 100 in July/August 1972 b/w It Hurts To Want It So Bad on Stax 0127.

The title song is so wonderful, sounding very similar to the Chi-Lites’ 1971 hit “Have You Seen Her”, with its intro and spoken verses. For Mel & Tim, “Starting All Over Again” was their first big hit since their 1969 song “Backfield in Motion”. After this album (Starting All Over Again), they recorded a second album with Stax, which was simply titled “Mel & Tim” (from 1974).