Ollie & the Nightingales – 1969 – Ollie & the Nightingales
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Ollie & the Nightingales… such a shame they aren’t as well-known as other stellar Southern Soul acts, or, for that matter, all those huge soul harmony groups of the day.
Fronted by the amazing Ollie Nightingale (née Hoskins), who sadly departed in 1998 at the age of 61, the group cut a few singles (among them the hit “I Got a Sure Thing“) and this sole album for Stax Records in the late ’60s. The latter is, without a doubt, a masterpiece of Southern Soul.
A1 You’ll Never Do Wrong 2:46
A2 Don’t Make The Good Suffer 2:25
A3 Don’t Do What I Did 3:03
A4 I’ve Got A Feeling 2:47
A5 You’re Leaving Me 2:48
A6 Broke-In Love 2:45
B1 A- B- C- D 3:49
B2 Mellow Way You Treat Your Man 2:26
B3 Girl You Make My Heart Sing 2:11
B4 I’ve Never Found A Girl 3:05
B5 Showered With Love 2:38
Review by Soulmakossa
“You’ll Never Do Wrong” (written by Booker T. Jones and William Bell) gets things started, and this delicious, stuttering soul jam – punctuated by blasts of the Memphis Horns and Al Jackson’s relentless backbeat – immediately showcases those gruffy, gutbucket pipes of Ollie… I can’t really say I’ve heard anything like it… A slightly higher-pitched David Prater (of Sam & Dave), is as close as I can get to comparing.
The tempo is sustained with the blazing “Don’t Make the Good Suffer“, a jaunty, horn-heavy workout featuring the Nightingales in full force on the chorus.
And the beat won’t let up: Isaac Hayes and David Porter wrote the funky “Don’t Do What I Did“. Fatback drums, wailing horns, country church guitar provide the perfect backdrop to Ollie and his Nightingales’ gospel-drenched vocals. Quirky little bridge in there, as well.
More traditonal ground is covered with the – still swingin’ – “I’ve Got a Feeling” (and man those harmonies… the Tempts had nuttin’ on Ollie & the Gang) and the beautiful ballad “You’re Leaving Me” – co-written by Eddie Floyd – where Ollie goes all the way on the chorus. A hint of strings add to the sensitivity of the tune.
Side B starts off with one of the LP’s grittiest, hard socking jams. “Broke-In Love” not only is a sweat-inducing, fingersnappin’ floorshaker, it also features Ollie’s amazing tenor at its most overwhelming… He rips this one up, amazing. Also check out the clever incorporation of a snippet of the Beatles’ “Baby You’re a Rich Man” in mid-song.
The Hayes/Porter duo then concocted the sweet, gently flowing ballad “A-B-C-D“, with Ollie giving it his all and the Nightingales providing some great, ’50-R&B-ish backing vocals; as well as the zesty, stomping “Mellow Way You Treat Your Man” with its full-on brass attack.
Booker T. and William Bell came up with the nostalgic, fast-paced “Girl You Make My Heart Sing“, a rock-hard old-style vamp of sassy R&B; as well as the album’s closer, the steady rollicking “Showered With Love“, a dreamy ballad which once more stars Ollie’s unfathomably rough, raw, funky, soulful (add any other superlative here) vocal.
Finally, Ollie’s take on Eddie Floyd’s “I Never Found a Girl” hardly is ‘album filler’… I’m pretty sure the same music backtrack was used – sans the strings – but man, listening to Ollie wail here together with his group is an essential soul experience. That man could saaang, y’all.