O.V. Wright – 1971 – A Nickel And A Nail And The Ace Of Spades

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Intro review by AMG  Main review by Soulmakossa

Rip, Research, Posting and additional info’s by Nikos

The golden era of Southern soul was essentially over by 1971, but thankfully no one told O.V. Wright about this; this album, which as the title suggests featured two of his biggest hits, showed that his gifts as a vocalist were near the peak of their strength, and this is Memphis-style R&B in the grand tradition. Willie Mitchell produced these sessions at his Royal Recording Studio in Memphis, with the Hi Records Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns providing the backing, and their performances lend the music a smooth, glorious burn like fine brandy, and are not unlike the work they did with Al Green, but reveal a darker and bluesier tone. Great as the band is, Wright headlines this show, and when he sings he dominates these sessions with grace and authority; the longing and hurt in his voice are a wonder to behold, and the burnished gospel influences in his voice meld the secular and the sacred with a powerful common belief, particularly on “He Made Woman for Man.” The lovers’ ache of “Don’t Take It Away” and “When You Took Your Love from Me“,  and the blues-shot laments of “A Nickel and a Nail” and “Afflicted” are as powerful as Southern soul got in the early ’70s. Wright was a master of this form, and while he would lose his life only nine years after this album was released, A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades sounds like the work of an artist as powerful and vital as you could ask for.

Brilliant music, despite cover art that makes this look like a low-budget bootleg.

A1 Don’t Let My Baby Ride 3:02
A2 Born All Over 3:16
A3 Ace of Spades 2:12
A4 Eight Men – Four Women 2:56
A5 He Made Woman for Man 3:04
B1 I Can’t Take It 3:08
B2 Afflicted 3:43
B3 When You Took Your Love From Me 3:02
B4 Nickle and a Nail 3:40
B5 Don’t Take It Away 3:53

O.V. Wright really took off in 1970, permanently joining forces with Willie Mitchell and recording this masterpiece of funky Southern Soul in Memphis.

Taking the traditional gospel song “Don’t Let the Devil Ride” and transforming it into a very secular, sexually charged rhythm riot, “Don’t Let My Baby Ride” is the perfect opener. There’s the lazy, plodding groove, augmented with sensual female backing vocals, a purring Hammond and that thick, meaty bass. Also features a very bluesy guitar solo, a rarity among soul waxings from the era.

Born All Over” harkens back to more orthodox sounds; a minor keyed, haunting slow winding, heavily gospelfide ballad. It’s followed by a track Wright had actually cut way back in ’67, the tormented “Eight Men Four Women“.

And then comes “Ace of Spades“… A tune personifying the perfect combination of Southern Soul and earthy, smokin’ Funk. A terrific stomper, Wright’s voice is perfectly suited for such hard funkin’ excursions. Everything here works; from the blazing horn chart to the fatback drums and the propellin’ bass. Wright’s vocal finale is amazing…

A Nickel and A Nail” is just as awesome; another heavy funk ‘n’ soul workout that’s smothered in wailing brass, while riding a sinister sounding, down and out groove. Wright sounds at his most pained on this take… passion and despair oozes from every word he belts.

The sweetly funky “He Made Woman for Man” is more upbeat: fluid, Stax-esque guitar fills and soul sister backing vocals as O.V. celebrates the glory of love.

The bliss is short-lived, however, as Wright immediately glides back in one of his devastatingly realistic ‘I’m gutted and I don’t care’ bags with the haunting “I Can’t Take It“. The groove is just as lowdown on the slow, hypnotizing wailer “Afflicted”, another fine showcase for O.V.’s tremendous deep Soul vocalizing.

But you’re really getting slugged in the stomach as Wright rips through the mournful, downbeat, depressing “When You Took Your Love From Me“. An excruciatingly sorrowful vocal here, while the horns seem to despondantly blare on in the back as the drums keep marching a deceptively more jovial groove.

The album ends on a hopelessly pleading note as O.V. lets loose one more time on the slow grinding “Don’t Take It Away“. As the song fades out, you hear Wright wailing on as the gospelish choir mourns along with him.

Probably O.V.’s greatest LP.


One of the greatest soul albums of all time, it’s absolutely first-rate all the way through.  

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You can also enjoy his other masterpiece “Memphis Unlimited in our back pages here.

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Conversation for album: O.V. Wright – 1971 – A Nickel And A Nail And The Ace Of Spades

  • early winn
    Posted at 02:21h, 05 June 2013 Reply

    So great! One of my all time favorite singers, thanks.

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 08:31h, 05 June 2013 Reply

    No comments needed, just exclamation marks!!!!
    Thanks for this great one!

  • Gatasca
    Posted at 08:53h, 05 June 2013 Reply

    Oh my my…I can’t thank you enough for this treasure.
    Definitely a masterpiece.

  • onawave
    Posted at 11:46h, 05 June 2013 Reply

    thank u so much. the best moosic site

  • Soul Motif
    Posted at 19:10h, 05 June 2013 Reply

    Oh lawd, sweet baby Jesus!!! I love it……

  • rich
    Posted at 20:49h, 05 June 2013 Reply

    thank u cant wait to give it a listen

  • Guest
    Posted at 00:17h, 07 June 2013 Reply

    WOAHHH… this album is so unbelievable amazing, loving each single song!

    Could some of you guys give me some recommendations of other akbums that go into this direction? I especially love these deep horns.. the arrangement of this album. just perfect.
    Thanks in advance 😉

  • Nikos
    Posted at 09:25h, 07 June 2013 Reply

    Well, this style is Deep Soul or Memphis Soul or Southern Soul. A search with those keys words will lead you to the best artists and albums. I can recommend a few like James Carr (2 amazing albums posted here), Syl Johnson (most of his albums), Doris Duke (i’m a looser), Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas (the queen alone), William Bell, Johnny Taylor and Otis Redding. Aretha and Al Green of course, ah Eddie Floyd (Knock on Wood) and so many others…

  • 71189
    Posted at 00:24h, 08 June 2013 Reply

    Thanks a lot for the post ♪♪♫♫♥♥

  • Jamit
    Posted at 12:27h, 09 June 2013 Reply


  • Jamit
    Posted at 12:32h, 09 June 2013 Reply

    what a giant of a talent this man was. Guitarist Robert Cray perform years ago and it did my heart good because he gave a shout out the brotha O.V. saying that this was the man he idolized growing up. the white folks in the audience didn’t have a clue to who he was talking about lord knows I did. You know his boy was the late great James Carr who in my opinion was the greatest.

  • Renne
    Posted at 23:03h, 09 June 2013 Reply

    Nothing but the truth!

  • cleffdeadly
    Posted at 09:53h, 10 June 2013 Reply

    classic album, thanks guys!

  • Leonard
    Posted at 09:59h, 10 June 2013 Reply

    Thank you for another dope post. A rare treasure.

  • Yvette
    Posted at 23:22h, 11 June 2013 Reply

    This needs a million views

  • Opera2
    Posted at 00:25h, 12 June 2013 Reply

    A classic gem !!

  • Delta
    Posted at 17:27h, 13 June 2013 Reply

    His voice was magical and the music brilliant.

  • Ulrich
    Posted at 23:12h, 13 June 2013 Reply

    This album is absolutely sublime from start to finish.

  • Redcorner
    Posted at 00:28h, 15 June 2013 Reply

    Great work guys. Thank u.

  • Lora
    Posted at 15:23h, 15 June 2013 Reply

    I am so glad i discover this amazing blog. All links alive. It’s unbelivable. Congratulations. Greetings from Budapest.

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 11:28h, 25 June 2013 Reply

    Enjoying this one over and over again …

  • Arthur
    Posted at 11:53h, 25 June 2013 Reply

    Thanks buddy!

  • poppachubby
    Posted at 11:00h, 02 July 2013 Reply

    Great post. It’s wonderful to see his music being discovered still. He was the greatest soul singer of all time…

  • Jason
    Posted at 09:17h, 23 July 2013 Reply

    This is dope as hell.

  • Bill
    Posted at 00:40h, 03 August 2013 Reply

    This is great. I’ve never heard until today. Thanks for the upload.

  • Lemon33
    Posted at 12:36h, 15 August 2013 Reply

    ♥ adorable!!

  • Austin
    Posted at 11:19h, 25 August 2013 Reply

    really…. wowww… thas a memory gem!

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