Phillip Upchurch – 1972 – Darkness, Darkness

Rip and research by Mr.Moo Review  by AMG

Posting and adittional info’s by Nikos

Recorded in 1971, shortly after he departed Cadet Records in Chicago where he served as a prime sideman to both Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler, guitar king Phil Upchurch headed for the West Coast and Blue Thumb Records. Produced by Tommy LiPuma, Upchurch’s Darkness, Darkness is his quintessential (double) album, full of laid-back funky grooves, elegant, mind-blowing guitar work, and in-the-pocket string and horn arrangements (as well as some fine Fender Rhodes work) from Donny Hathaway with legendary session bassist Chuck Rainey and smooth jazz piano great Joe Sample in the house.

Darkness, Darkness 9:35
Fire and Rain 7:35
What We Call the Blues 6:35
Cold Sweat 6:35
Please Send Me Someone to Love 5:07
Inner City Blues 6:42
You`ve Got a Friend 8:39
Love and Peace 5:24
Swing Low Sweet Chariot 6:36
Sausalito Blues 4:05

Upchurch is one of the rare guitarists who can walk the line of jazz, blues, rock, soul, and funk and fold them all into one another without sacrificing anything in the process, and that is displayed on countless occasions here. On the cover of the Youngbloods on the title track, Upchurch leaves all the fuzz tone and distortion of his early work behind him for the shimmering cleanliness of the West Coast sound. He gets the dirty grooves through the notes, not the effects, bringing out a funkier side of the Jesse Colin Young tune than its author ever knew existed. Hathaway’s spare, tasty muted horn arrangements follow in counterpoint to the melody, creating an extended harmony that acts almost as another voice. On “Fire and Rain“, the James Taylor nugget that was a current hit, Upchurch begins tenderly, wringing the melody slowly and purposefully from the guitar before the keyboards and strings reach in and grab hold of it. Forced to respond, he chunks up with large Wes Montgomery-styled chords and knotty fills for the piano and horn lines, cascading like water in the background. He increases the tempo and turns it out as a funky soul tune, resonating with the haunting melodic invention that brings it back to its rooted, poignant lyric. And while these tunes signify Upchurch as capable of turning even the most melancholy of folk tunes into funk-driven boogaloos, it’s on the soul tunes where he shines brightest.

His covers of James Brown‘s “Cold Sweat“, Percy Mayfield‘s “Please Send Me Someone to Love“, and Marvin Gaye‘s “Inner City Blues” carry the record into the pop stratosphere. While the rock music was danceable and inspiring to begin with and was reinvented both structurally and emotionally by Upchurch‘s playing, it’s when he digs into classic R&B material that things really start to happen. He plays with so much soul and sticky groove that he wrings every sweat-drenched ounce of emotion from these songs and turns them into anthems of funky transcendence. There isn’t anything extra in his silky approach, but there is a profound knowledge of when to move and when to slip, slide, and groove through these charts that is a trademark for Upchurch. No one could take a raw tune like “Cold Sweat“, smooth it out, an still give it the tough, minimal, feeling read that Upchurch does here. His fingers are flying all over the place but are never outside the reach of the rhythm section. Never. Darkness, Darkness is the soul-jazz album of 1971 to beat, and one of the finest albums of its genre ever released. Upchurch is a genius and this album proves it beyond doubt.

Buy the AlbumPhillip Upchurch – 1972 – Darkness, Darkness


Conversation for album: Phillip Upchurch – 1972 – Darkness, Darkness

  • Scott
    Posted at 21:10h, 01 February 2013 Reply

    Thank you!

  • Robert
    Posted at 12:28h, 02 February 2013 Reply

    A wonderful experience!

  • Curtis
    Posted at 20:47h, 02 February 2013 Reply

    THANKS AGAIN !!!!!!!

  • Dexter
    Posted at 21:16h, 02 February 2013 Reply

    Amazing. This blog rocks.

  • Arsen
    Posted at 22:50h, 02 February 2013 Reply

    Can’t wait for it.

  • Debbie
    Posted at 13:59h, 03 February 2013 Reply

    Thank you, I did not think I would ever find this album.

  • whoknows
    Posted at 21:10h, 03 February 2013 Reply

    Incredible! Haven’t heard this one yet, THANKS AGAIN n AGAIN!!!

  • greg
    Posted at 21:36h, 03 February 2013 Reply

    Interesting… thanks 🙂

  • Grumpy
    Posted at 12:17h, 04 February 2013 Reply

    Nice one! Thanks!
    Also for all those other posts btw. 😉

  • rich
    Posted at 21:29h, 04 February 2013 Reply

    thank u mr. moo and nikos for this wonderful album

  • brianbrora
    Posted at 23:20h, 04 February 2013 Reply

    It’s fascinating to think that this is the same guy who gave us that great instrumental ”You Can’t sit down now” in the mid 1960s.

  • Nikos
    Posted at 23:23h, 04 February 2013 Reply
  • brianbrora
    Posted at 15:09h, 05 February 2013 Reply

    If anyone would like the ”You Can’t Sit Down..” LP, it’s on my own blog. You’ll need to email me for an invite.

  • Freddie
    Posted at 21:02h, 06 February 2013 Reply

    A nice surprise. Never heard of him.

  • Ryan
    Posted at 09:59h, 07 February 2013 Reply


  • Dawson
    Posted at 10:02h, 07 February 2013 Reply

    Really kind to hear that. I like so much the style 🙂

  • Lucas
    Posted at 19:42h, 07 February 2013 Reply


  • Chris44
    Posted at 19:46h, 07 February 2013 Reply

    I need this record. AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • philo
    Posted at 05:54h, 08 February 2013 Reply

    Interesting take on my favorite Youngbloods song.

  • K34S
    Posted at 13:02h, 10 February 2013 Reply

    You have the best collection and taste in music.

  • horstenpeter
    Posted at 00:31h, 30 March 2013 Reply

    Thank you for this, and thank you for all the work you’re doing on this blog! I’ve been coming back here again and again for years and I’ve discovered so much great music through you.

  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 18:43h, 10 May 2013 Reply

    big thanks!

  • Nic
    Posted at 22:19h, 10 May 2013 Reply

    Great. Thanks

  • Ponta
    Posted at 17:53h, 17 May 2015 Reply

    format vinyl rip?

  • Topaz Bon
    Posted at 05:11h, 22 February 2016 Reply

    This LP is without doubt one of the finest of it’s kind, and I agree 100% with the review above. Thank you so much for making the album available!!

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