Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New (Old) Music Tuesday: Shirley Brown

From now Tuesdays here at the The Collectionaire will feature new music, only with an "old" twist. Happy listening!

Woman to Woman, Truth/Stax, 1974

Despite starting on the road with Albert King and Little Milton at age 14, soul singer Shirley Brown didn't find fame until 1974 when her Truth Records (Stax subsidiary) release, Woman to Woman became a #1 hit on the R &B Billboard charts. The LP's namesake song- one woman's declaration to her man's lover to leave him be- is as iconic as they come: rich with emotion, beautiful string arrangement, and those famous Stax horns. It was nominated for a Grammy in 1975.

Love is Built On a Strong Foundation, Abet, 1972

Woman to Woman has been on my listening rotation for years now, but recently I decided to dig a little deeper, preferably for pre-Stax Shirley Brown. I was hoping to find some gospel recordings from her early years, but alas, I did not. In fact, the only pre-Stax recordings I could find were from a 1972 7" released on Abet Records- I Ain't Gonna Tell/Love Is Built on a Strong Foundation. Between the two, I favor Love is Built on a Strong Foundation.

I've Got to Go On Without You, Truth/Stax, 1975

The unfortunate truth is that Woman to Woman by far houses Shirley Brown's best material. Other gems include, I've Got to Go On Without You, which was re-released as a 45 in 1975. The song was originally written by Al Jackson and Larry McIntosh for Stax artist, William Bell. Personally, I think Shirley Brown's version is the groove.  The B-side, "It Ain't No Fun" is equally tasty. Set the record spinning and you'll find yourself wrapped in the arms of Shirley's voice which are like a roaring fire on a winter day.

It Ain't No Fun, Truth/Stax, 1975

It's too bad Shirley never found the same kind of commercial success as she did with Woman to Woman. She certainly had the voice, but neither Arista nor Malaco (her subsequent labels) ever did her talent justice. At least we'll always have Woman to Woman.  

Have any Shirley Brown thoughts or favorite tunes? What about other Abet or Stax artists?

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