John Gary Williams – 1973 – John Gary Williams

An obscure one from Stax, only solo effort from John Gary Williams, who earlier headed up the excellent Mad Lads (“Don’t Have to Shop Around,” “I Want Someone”) vocal group for the label!

Williams is working here with a fairly sophisticated set of arrangements – ones that almost have a Curtom Chicago sound to them, instead of the usual Stax groove – and we mean that in a good way, as the overall quality of the album’s sweet soul arrangements is quite strong – really pushing the material in a way that’s different from Memphis soul, and which has made the record an overlooked gem from the legendary label!It was produced almost entirely by the artist with help from notable members of Isaac Hayes’ Movement and features some lovely covers – Ask The Lonely, How Could I Let You Get Away and a surprisingly successful, slowed down and extended version of Bobby Goldsboro’s Honey – and several original titles by Williams, including the under-the-radar smash political-groover, “The Whole Damn World is Going Crazy”.

The whole thing’s light years from familiar southern soul modes, and a real standout from Stax.

Tracks
A1 I See Hope 3:02
A2 I’m So Glad Fools Can Fall In Love 4:13
A3 Honey 6:37
A4 Loving You (It Ain’t Easy) 2:44
B1 Ask The Lonely 3:31
B2 How Could I Let You Get Away 4:00
B3 Open Your Heart (And Let Love Come In) 3:12
B4 The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy 3:10

AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger

John Gary Williams had been a longtime member of the Stax soul vocal group the Mad Lads before starting a solo career after the group broke up in the early ’70s. His self-titled 1973 album is one of the most obscure Stax LPs, in part because it was issued as the company started to cease operations. He wrote five of the eight tracks on the record, producing five of them as well (and co-producing the others).

Though not a major effort in the scheme of either early-’70s soul or the Stax catalog, it’s a pleasant assortment of sweet soul tracks, with a slightly earthier edge than many recordings in the genre boasted. Most of the songs are upbeat romantic numbers highlighting Williams’ smooth, high vocals, inserting covers of songs by the Four Topsthe Spinners, and (more unexpectedly) Bobby Goldsboro.

The most impressive cuts, by a long shot, are the ones that steer away from the usual romantic themes to make general social observations. The opener “I See Hope” is a lively, dramatic expression of optimism; the closing “The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy“, in contrast, reflects the pessimism infiltrating much early-’70s soul, the gently percolating grooves and soaring strings offsetting lyrics of confusion at the backstabbing state of the modern world.

A great album for all lovers of early seventies soul music.

 

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19 Comments
  • Sir Duke
    Posted at 11:42h, 05 August 2017 Reply

    Brilliant.

  • Tina
    Posted at 18:52h, 05 August 2017 Reply

    Beautiful! Love oldies

  • Freddy
    Posted at 10:57h, 06 August 2017 Reply

    great music. great blog. thanks.

  • Ellen
    Posted at 11:19h, 06 August 2017 Reply

    Very beautiful upload 🌺
    Enjoy the weekend

  • Terence
    Posted at 19:40h, 06 August 2017 Reply

    So great. Deeply enjoy.

  • Kate
    Posted at 23:47h, 06 August 2017 Reply

    I’m so glad I grew up listening to my mom’s old lps.

  • H2O
    Posted at 19:36h, 07 August 2017 Reply

    serious lp – like this!
    thx so much!

  • fabio
    Posted at 20:04h, 07 August 2017 Reply

    Thanks again man, long live to funk my soul

  • Zero5
    Posted at 20:25h, 07 August 2017 Reply

    One of the warmest additions to this blog!

  • Ray
    Posted at 10:30h, 08 August 2017 Reply

    Cool. thanks.

  • Micky
    Posted at 18:42h, 08 August 2017 Reply

    Certainly worth the wait thank you for sharing.

  • Ron Mcgrath
    Posted at 20:15h, 08 August 2017 Reply

    This is one of those albums that I’ve been trying to get forever but it’s always way to beat up. Finally I get to listen to it the proper way. Thanks!!!

  • Wex
    Posted at 13:53h, 09 August 2017 Reply

    Thank you, once again you have outdone yourself with this great post

  • Carponi
    Posted at 09:26h, 10 August 2017 Reply

    Thank you for caring this much. We’re all learning from these old LPs.

  • Elke
    Posted at 12:38h, 10 August 2017 Reply

    another dope 70’s record

  • Jacob
    Posted at 19:36h, 10 August 2017 Reply

    Massive thanX!

  • Ann
    Posted at 19:40h, 11 August 2017 Reply

    It’s so nice. i loved all these soul groups in the 70s.

  • Nemo67
    Posted at 11:38h, 12 August 2017 Reply

    what a post…beautiful..thanks nikos..

  • Alan
    Posted at 12:35h, 20 August 2017 Reply

    Molto buono. Grazie.

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