The South is synonymous with many things, but perhaps none more so than the heartbeat of America's music- rhythm & blues. One of America's greatest gifts to the world, it is the song of every man, woman, and forgotten child; the intense heat of smoky juke-joints, dubious deals made with the devil at any number of intersections and detours along life's highways. Cheatin', cryin', done-you-dirty, and love lost & won are common themes that have influenced both creators and consumers of this human testimony. Historically, the South has always been about unsung heroes, and of all frailties and celebrations of mankind.
The South has given birth to some of America's greatest unsung heroes- hardworking , soul baring singers, writers and musicians. Rarely have two such talented heroes been brought together - blues rock singer Jimmy Hall, and the legendary Muscle Shoals musician and songwriter Eddie Hinton (1944 95). This tribute is the brainchild of producer Tallan Ware who stumbled across these long lost Hinton songs, and immediately fell in love with them. A conversation with Muscle Shoals legend Clayton Ivey resulted in the marriage of Hall's magnificent voice to Hinton's stellar body of work. Clayton had previously worked with the Commodores, Hank Williams Jr, the Staple Singers, B.B. and Albert King, Percy Sledge, Etta James, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and many others. An expert of the r&b era, Tallan wanted Jimmy Hall for the project, and enlisted Ivey in bringing him on board.
Tallan assembled the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Collective, an amazing list of Muscle Shoals A team players, including Clayton Ivey on keys, and David Hood on bass. David’s sideman credentials include Traffic, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, B.B. and Albert King, Duane & Gregg Allman, Carlos Santana, Bob Seger and others. Larry Byrom, previously guitarist with Steppenwolf, Bobbie Womack, Millie Jackson, and with Neil Young as a pianist, was enlisted as rhythm guitarist, and Jonathan Dees, son of Nashville studio session guitarist Bruce Dees, on drums. The magic was born at Sound Kitchen Studios in Franklin, Tennessee. Hall's duet with Delbert McClinton on "Still Want to Be Your Man" and Kira Small on "Salty" were the icing on the cake, resulting in an immensely powerful 11 tracks of classic, soulful blues in the lean, terse Muscle Shoals style of the late 1960s.
Jimmy and Tallan then asked guitarist Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters to overdub lead guitar, and to create alternate versions of several key songs. Greg remixed several tracks into a more contemporary, groove-driven style with appeal to a younger rock audience. He added lead guitar solos and fills, including electric sitar riffs on “Salty”. When Jimmy and Tallan heard the new mixes, they decided to assemble the final CD out of both the “Jimmy and Tallan” and “Greg” mixes, adding two “Greg” mixes as bonus tracks following the original selection of 11 songs. -
Jimmy Hall has the kind of voice that makes a woman want to leave her husband and disappear into the mystery of the blues. Born in Mobile of a musical family, he first gained national attention as frontman of 70s rock band Wet Willie - one of Phil Walden's Capricorn supernovas. An eye-candy bad boy wired for sound and speed, Hall quickly made a name for himself, holding his own, to this day, with the greatest amen, revival soul shouters of our time.
During the 70s, Wet Willie cranked out the radio hits one after the other, playing the biggest venues with the biggest names in rock and blues. Hall kept the rock funked up and hot, dazzling people with his harp and saxophone skills in addition to his caramel and honey soaked vocals.
Rather than fall prey to the excesses of a drug infested rock scene, Hall chose the southern family tradition to raise his three sons as a family rather than traveling the perilous road to super-stardom. After leaving Wet Willie in 1980, Hall continued his musical dreams as an in-demand session singer and player, and signed a publishing deal with EMI.
In 1995 Capricorn Records released "Rendezvous with the Blues", a critical hit that planted the seed of returning to a regular performing life. Serving as band-leader for Hank Williams Jr, and working with Brit rocker Jeff Beck further fueled the desire. With his sons successfully on their way to adulthood, the time was right. Tallan and the Eddie Hinton tribute project went from idea to reality, with Hall's now wisdom-weary voice taking on a dimension never heard before, having deepened from his youth into an even deeper, aged-bourbon declaration of the blues.
Jerry Wexler once described Eddie Hinton as "the anointed one, the white Otis Redding". High praise from one of the industry's most revered producers, and veteran of the classic Muscle Shoals sound. Raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Hinton would grow up to be the house lead guitarist at Muscle Shoals Sound from 1968 until 1971, where he played on sessions with Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley, Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, The Staple Singers, The Dells, Elvis Presley, The Box Tops, Boz Scaggs, Otis Redding, and others.
Jimmy Hall. Photo by Michael Gomez
Few could match his expert playing or craftsmanship in writing songs which were recorded by Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Bobby Womack, Cher, Tony Joe White, Gregg Allman, Bonnie Bramlett, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, The Box Tops, UB40, and the Nighthawks. It was truly a glorious time to be a musician. However all eras eventually come to an end, and the Muscle Shoals sound slowly faded away, as newer reggae, punk and disco sounds took over the airwaves.
Hinton was a musician who had spent his youth and energy investing in an industry that no longer required his presence or participation. He continued to play music and produced several critically acclaimed projects of his own. The projects brought creative release and mild awareness, but like many other unsung southern heroes, Hinton disappeared into obscurity and bad health. He died in 1995, long before his contributions were fully appreciated.
David Hood, bassist on this recording, was a friend of Eddie’s. In an Audioography radio interview he gave in Nashville in 2005, he movingly and insightfully describes Eddie’s huge talent and accomplishments, and his troubled personality. It was decided to add the Eddie Hinton portion of this interview as an additional, third bonus track at the end of the music portion of the CD.
As any devoted music lover knows, a singer is nothing without a great song, and a song is nothing without a great singer. Jimmy Hall and Eddie Hinton were destined to cross paths. Neither could possibly have known it would be in the 21st century. However, this singer and these songs were made to last forever.
Beth Raebeck Hall
Grammy Nominee - Best Contemporary Blues.
Produced by Tallan Ware & Jimmy Hall. Associate Producers J.C. Monterrosa & Greg Martin. Recorded and mixed by J.C. Monterrosa at The Sound Kitchen. Assisted by Matt Coles. Additional engineering by Sean Giovanni. Greg Martin’s tracks recorded by Dave Barrick, Barrick Studios. Mastered by Jim Demain at Yes Master, Nashville, TN. Production Coordinator Kevin Dillow for Wareable Media. Photography Michael Gomez (CD cover). Package design by 3 and Co., New York (www.threeandco.com). Executive Producers: Roger Davidson and Joachim “Jochen” Becker, Becker Davidson Entertainment, L.L.C.
Delbert McClinton appears courtesy New West Records. Kira Smalls appears courtesy Bruce Dees Music. Greg Martin appears courtesy Kentucky Head Hunters. Legal: David Wykoff. Management: Jimmy Hall Entertainment Wareablemusic@aol.com. Jimmy Hall uses Hohner Harmonicas and The Peavey Delta Blues Amp. Greg Martin uses Gibson Guitars. T.A.Ware uses Audio-Technica Mikes.