74.5 MB 256+ VBR LAME mp3 Vinyl rip & scans from CBS CS 9680
A while back never enough rhodes featured the soundtrack to Shaft's Big Score and it reminded me how good the old albums by O.C. Smith, who sings a couple tracks on the OST, really were. After spinning them a couple times to much enjoyment I threw them in the I'll-get-around-to-ripping-these-eventually pile and, prompted by dusty-fingered don Doctor Okeh diggin' into his deep crates for a dope double post featuring At Home with Love Is Foreverthis week, it seems "eventually" is now.
Although the sessions musicians aren't credited anywhere, the man most responsible for the sweet sounds within the grooves is H.B. Barnum, who is likely one of the most under-appreciated personalities in the entertainment industry. That tag's been used often but if you're not sure of the man's accomplishments, starting as a child actor on radio in the 40s with The Jack Benny Show and Amos 'n' Andy continuing on up to the present day, then follow the link and learn how familiar you already are with his work.
This summer I watched with great pleasure as Barnum led Aretha Franklin's band for her stint at the Montreal Jazz Fest and he looked a helluva lot younger and much more energetic than you would expect for having 78 years under his belt. Hickory Holler Revisted was recorded around the time he was helping David Axelrod develop his unique sound and you can hear the same sort of musical sensibilitiy here, especially on "Main Street Mission," which he co-wrote with album producer Jerry Fuller.
As for O.C. himself, here's some background info and an album review courtesy of All Music Guide:
AMG Bio by Ron Wynn O.C. Smith began as a jazz vocalist and later moved into country and R&B. The Louisiana vocalist was hired to replace Joe Williams in Count Basie's band in the early '60s after cutting some unsuccessful records for Cadence and others in the '50s. He sang with Basie's band from 1961 to 1963. Following a period where he sang country and even had a hit with "Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp," Smith moved into soul. His biggest hit was "Little Green Apples," which was number two on both the pop and R&B charts in 1968. His other big R&B single was "Daddy's Little Man," which reached number nine in 1969.
Smith stayed on Columbia until 1974, but didn't score any more big records. He moved to Caribou in 1976 and recorded later for Shadybrook, Family, Motown, and Rendezvous. In 1985 he began to balance his work in the recording studio with his new passion for Christian ministry, but despite the fact that he founded his own church in Los Angeles, The City of Angels Church of Religious Science, he continued to perform and record until the time of his death on November 23, 2001.
AMG Review by Wade Kergan Already a successful jazz vocalist , O.C. Smith crossed over into the pop market when "Little Green Apples" became a hit in 1968; reaching the number two spot on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts, its relaxed pace set the mood for his second solo album, Hickory Holler Revisited. Easily his most popular release, several other songs from the album made the R&B charts, including "Honey (I Miss You)," "Isn't It Lonely Together," and the definitive country-soul of "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp."
The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp
Main Street Mission
1 The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp 2 Sitting On The Dock Of Bay 3 Main Street Mission 4 By The Time I Get To Phoenix 5 Long Black Limousine 6 The House Next Door 7 Little Green Apples 8 Take Time To Know Her 9 Honey (I Miss You) 10 The Best Man 11 Seven Days
Reissued on a single budget-priced CD with For Once In My Lifea few years back, there are plenty of affordable copies of this OOP vinyl on the intertubes - even an autographed copy is available at a reasonable rate. However, you can quickly catch this killer country-soul set from SoundologicalHERE or HERE.