Charles Brimmer – 1976 – Soulman

Charles Brimmer Soulman front

Although a lot of other LPs on the Chelsea label had more of a pop soul feel, this album (and the other one) by Charles Brimmer is an excellent batch of modern Southern Soul recorded in New Orleans with Senator Jones at the production helm. Brimmer’s in top form, and he lays down a great batch of tracks written by himself, Allen Toussaint and Willie Mitchell.

Charles Brimmer Soulman back

By Dan Phillips

The LP was the second and last of his career, the follow-up to Expressions of Soul, which had sold well due to the inclusion of his 1975 deep soul hit single, “God Bess Our Love”; but, by the time Soulman came out, the buzz created by that hit had faded, and subsequent singles on Chelsea resulted only in diminishing sales. Not having a new hit to lift it, the second album, though well-done, could not overcome the downward trajectory. Although I stated last time that Soulman is generally agreed to be the better LP, after repeated listening, I have to say that both have their attractions. Soulman noses ahead for me due to more and better upbeat material, improved arrangements and playing, and Brimmer’s voice, which seems much more seasoned and expressive, gritter where needed, with a fluid range. Perhaps this had something to do with the intense touring he did as a result of the earlier hit, with all that singing giving his tenor more character and improving his control.

One of two Toussaint compositions on the album, “Play Something Sweet” was covered by a number of national artists of the era, including Maria Muldaur, B. J.Thomas, Frankie Miller (a Toussaint production), and Three Dog Night, who had a big hit with it in 1974. I believe that Brimmer’s version was unique in one sense, at least. He was the only local artist to record the song back then. Toussaint didn’t even put it on any of his own solo albums. For some reason, though, Brimmer’s team changed the lyrics of the chorus slightly to say “play me some old time blues”, rather than Toussaint’s intended and more poetically effective “brickyard blues”; but, still, this take, arranged by Raymond Jones, while not groundbreaking, was a strong and solid mover. Anything less would have been unthinkable, since the LP, like its predecessor, was recorded at Sea-Saint Studio, Toussaint’s home turf.

On the album’s other Toussaint-penned offering, the soul-stirring “With You In Mind”, Brimmer gave it an effective and more nuanced performance, befitting the varied dynamics of the tune. Ray Jones was a capable arranger, but certainly no Toussaint. So, one naturally wonders what wonders might have befallen this project had the master himself handled the sessions. That thought may have occurred to Brimmer, too, since he told Jeff Hannusch that he was never satisfied with the production quality of his Chelsea releases, feeling Senator Jones cut too many corners.

Another thing Charles Brimmer has brought to our attention in his comments is that the composer of this song as well as one of the LP’s big ballads, “I Love Her”, was THE Willie Mitchell – Memphis music master. As the singer states, “He personally gave it [“I Love Her”] to me at his studio in Memphis. He told Senator to go back to New Orleans and duplicate it. Of course, he could not do it.” I’ll admit that before hearing from him I had my doubts about the authorship of both these tunes credited to the great Poppa Willie.

Of the other two upbeat tunes on Soulman, “Don’t Break My Heart” by Brimmer had the soulful infectious bounce of “Just Another Morning”, while “Your Man’s Gonna Be In Trouble”, written by Tony Owens, a musical take-off on the Bill Withers hit, “Use Me”, groove and all, was as well-rendered as it was derivative.

Chelsea dropped Brimmer soon after, if not right before, Soulman came out. Either way, the record didn’t have a chance in the marketplace and likely had a limited pressing. That mine is a stock copy rather than a promo indicates that at least a few saw daylight before the curtain fell. After his deal unwound, Brimmer, tired of Senator Jones’ double dealing ways, severed ties and moved to Los Angeles to try to make it in the big time. He did not have much luck gigging out there, nor could he secure a record deal in that intensely competitive scene. One example of his work on the Left Coast can currently be heard via YouTube, an unissued cover of “Show and Tell”definitely directed toward the commercial mainstream. Not that it got him anywhere.

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22 Comments
  • REBEL
    Posted at 13:39h, 29 September 2016 Reply

    Quality! class Soul. Bless you.

  • Darkman11
    Posted at 16:40h, 29 September 2016 Reply

    A haunting voice. Beautiful arrangements masterfully performed!

  • mose
    Posted at 16:45h, 29 September 2016 Reply

    thank u for this wonderful treat nikos

  • J,.P.
    Posted at 00:23h, 30 September 2016 Reply

    Thank you from Norway

  • Rene
    Posted at 11:44h, 30 September 2016 Reply

    Much appreciated. Lovely one.

  • Terence
    Posted at 18:47h, 30 September 2016 Reply

    What a great album. I knew so little about him. Thanks for the introduction.

  • rich
    Posted at 20:38h, 30 September 2016 Reply

    thank you nikos, great album

  • Wacafr
    Posted at 17:56h, 01 October 2016 Reply

    One can actually feel the sense of emotion running through this soul LP, truly awesome.

  • Dreamer
    Posted at 23:04h, 01 October 2016 Reply

    Nice like it, gonna play it tonight

  • Little Bill
    Posted at 07:08h, 02 October 2016 Reply

    Nikos once again thank YOU for the Music!

  • Stereosoul
    Posted at 10:26h, 02 October 2016 Reply

    Why is amazing music always underrated? :(

  • DollMA
    Posted at 11:59h, 03 October 2016 Reply

    Thank you for your hard work!!

  • Tron Bas
    Posted at 23:12h, 03 October 2016 Reply

    I feel so blessed to have lived and grow up in an era of such beautiful music. Its the best music…
    Thank you for the rare gem.

  • Alabor22
    Posted at 09:21h, 04 October 2016 Reply

    dig it

  • Diana
    Posted at 23:15h, 04 October 2016 Reply

    thanks for the quality of your music drops!

  • Sierra
    Posted at 08:58h, 05 October 2016 Reply

    Love it

  • Georgie
    Posted at 11:10h, 05 October 2016 Reply

    Nice one, great work.

  • Radek
    Posted at 21:19h, 06 October 2016 Reply

    A marvelous record. Thanks a lot..

  • Radek
    Posted at 11:20h, 07 October 2016 Reply

    By the way, the 1975 album can be downloaded here: https://mrmooswhatdafunk.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/charles-brimmer-expression-of-soul-1975-request/
    The link is http://www74.zippyshare.com/v/IEh9CcAi/file.html (it is rather difficult to find directly on Mr. Moo’s page.

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 08:56h, 10 October 2016 Reply

    Thank you!

  • HG1
    Posted at 09:44h, 11 October 2016 Reply

    Just found your blog. I wanted to say thanks for the posts and all of the hard work and effort.

  • NIja
    Posted at 10:18h, 14 October 2016 Reply

    It is the real cover and name album ? I get it in 1994,n in France, but with this name : “Brimful of Soul”.

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