26 Jul Jackie Wilson – 1976 – Nobody But You
Jackie Wilson – 1976 – Nobody But You
Produced by Carl Davis and Sonny Sanders, Nobody but You was Jackie Wilson’s final and possibly his finest album. Originally issued in late 1976, it was recorded in Detroit and had top-notch arrangements by Sanders and David Van De Pitte.
One charting single was the wise and exuberant “Don’t Burn No Bridges” which featured his Brunswick labelmates the Chi-Lites. Other highlights are the reflective “Where Is Love” , similar in tone to another Wilson track, “Beautiful Day” — the buoyant “It Only Happens When I Look at You“, the footstomper “Satisfy My Soul” and the Sam Dees ballad “Just As Soon As the Feeling’s Over“. It’s bittersweet that the LP ends with the steadfast “I’ve Learned About Life” — by the time of its release, the great singer had succumbed to the effects of an on-stage heart attack from which he’d never recover.
It is a magnificent LP and Jackie himself is quoted as saying just before he collapsed that he thought it was the best LP he had recorded.
A1 Where Is Love 3:26
A2 You’re The Song 2:49
A3 Nobody But You 2:56
A4 Just Call My Name 3:05
A5 Just As Soon As The Feelings Over 3:15
B1 Don’t Burn No Bridges 3:30
B2 You’d Be Good For Me 2:38
B3 It Only Happens When I Look At You 3:02
B4 Satisfy My Soul 2:52
B5 I’ve Learned About Life 3:30
Review by Soulmakossa
Recorded in 1975, Jackie Wilson’s final album, the swansong to his incredible and soulful career, may have been ridiculously poorly promoted and distributed by Brunswick, it definitely stands as a Holy Grail of Soul Music for those in the know.
First there was the single: “Nobody But You” is a goosebump inducing, wonderfully orchestrated and deeply gospelfide workout that has Wilson belting out a superb vocal, maybe even his finest. A warm, haunting tune carried by the churchy organ and infectious backing vocals. During the bridge, Jackie refers to Bill Withers’s “Lean on Me“, James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and then drives it all home with a mindboggling vocal finale in which he blasts out the to-the-point message that ‘nobody but you’ believed in him.
The flipside, the slightly Philly-influenced but still funky uptempo romper “I’ve Learned About Life” is a bittersweet listening experience. To hear the man sing so vivaciously, excited and positive – especially when he gets to the line ‘I’ve learned about life, whatever will be, will be for me’ – knowing he would collapse on stage only a few months later, resulting in a coma from which Wilson never recovered, is painful. But this song, and “Nobody But You”, are two grand epitaths to the soulful spirit of Mr. Excitement and, despite their obscurity, crucial pieces of unadulterated, funky soul music.
With Wilson’s vocals recorded in his hometown of Detroit and featuring arrangements by David Van De Pitte, the man who had also arranged Marvin Gaye‘s seminal ‘What’s Going On‘ disc, ‘Nobody But You’ not only features the masterful, gospelish title track but a further nine warm, deliciously executed soul gems.
The poignant, dreamy “Where Is Love” is a beautiful ballad featuring shimmering wah wah guitars, xylophones and gorgeous strings and brass; a slightly political track that wouldn’t have sounded out off place on Gaye’s 1971 masterpiece. Wilson dips into the Southern Soul songbook through an amazingly touching rendition of Sam Dees‘ “Just As Soon As the Feeling Is Over“, while there’s a healthy dose of funky rock ‘n’ soul on Gerry Coffin’s co-authored “You’d Be Good for Me” and the duet he cut with The Chi-Lites, “Don’t Burn No Bridges“.
And what to say about the irresistibly groovy soulful pop tunes written by Ken Gold… “You’re the Song (That I Can’t Stop Singing)” and “It Only Happens When I Look At You” both are indescribably tastefully orchestrated love songs that retain all the grit and sweat of SOUL through Wilson’s inimitable vocal power.
There’s a sense of sheer optimism in the struttin’ “Just Call My Name“, an uptempo, bouncing tune propelled by a funky l’il trumpet riff, while J.W. Alexander’s rockin’ “Satisfy My Soul” features thick, oozing bass lines and layers of superbly droning brass.
In all, ‘Nobody But You’ is an essential album.
Not only for fans of Wilson, nor solely for fans of Soul.
It (as well as its predecessor ‘Beautiful Day‘) is a musical masterpiece, and as annotist Alan Robinson wrote in the booklet to the CD-reissue: ‘Remember him this way‘.