256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Hi SH-32045
In a city populated by multiple generations of musical goliaths, WIllie Mitchell was somehow still able to stand head and shoulders above most Memphians. Since his passing this January, there have been many tributes made and obits written, so we'll keep it short and sweet here at SI. I'm throwing this one down mostly due to the fact that my pal, Professor Groove, asked me to guest on WeFunk Radio tonight to drop some science on Mitchell and flip some beats, both old and new, to highlight his legacy. You can listen to the live stream on CKUT's site if you like (midnight EST) and later I'll also drop a link to the show on the deep 'n' dope WeFunk archives).
While gearing up I noticed blogopolis was devoid of this smouldering coal of southern soul, so thought I'd share this classic set with y'all. Hip hop hedz will know the main joint Groovin' from GZA of the Wu-Tang's Liquid Swords but I originally bought it back in the 80s for the covers of Hugh Masakela's Grazing In The Grass and Cliff Noble's The Horse (previously posted here). If you ask me though, the real killer thriller is the rendition of Freddie King's San-Ho-Zay, a banger for the boards and a track that falls squarely between the nascent funk sound of the time and four-on-the-floor shakers familiar to the Northern Soul scene. On the whole, this LP sounds exactly like the cover sez and how it looks: Solid. Soul. Slick. Badass.
Wille's "Groovin'" vs. GZA's "Liquid Swords"
Wax Poetics' Obituary
One of the greatest record producers ever, Poppa Willie Mitchell ruled the soul charts with hits on Hi Records for O. V. Wright, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, and Syl Johnson. But everything changed the day a young soul crooner named Al Green arrived at his doorstep in South Memphis.
They had previously met in Texas at one of Green’s gigs. Mitchell offered to bring him back to Memphis, but Green wasn’t quite ready to commit. “He wanted to know how long it would take to make him a star,” Mitchell told Andria Lisle in Wax Poetics Issue 9. “I told him eighteen months, and you know what he said? ‘I really can’t wait that long!’” Poppa Willie, with a heart of gold, loaned the young Al $1500 to pay off some debts, but without a contract, Al Green disappeared into the night. “About six months later,” Mitchell remembered, “the doorbell rang at six o’clock in the morning. I thought it was a man coming to paint my kitchen, but the guy said, ‘Don’t you remember me? I’m Al Green.’”
Willie Mitchell died on Tuesday, January 5, 2010. He was eighty-one.
When you compare the Al Green anecdote with another one told by Al Bell at Mitchell's Memorial in Memphis, it's clear Willie really was as generous as they say. Seems after Stax went belly up, Al was not only persona non grata in the Memphis music scene for a while, the outcome was also financially crippling for him. During the service he reminisced how his main competitor, Willie, was the one cat who kept Al and his family from falling through the cracks at that crucial time. You can read all about it at Red Kelly's stupendously informative and stupid cool the "B'" side, a blog all soul fans should have the pleasure of perusing.
Willie Mitchell - Trumpet
Charles Hodges - Organ, Keyboards
Leroy Hodges - Bass
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges - Guitar
Al Jackson, Jr. - Drums
1 Prayer Meetin'
2 Grazing in the Grass
4 Sunrise Serenade
5 The Horse
8 Up Hard
9 Monkey Jump
10 Strawberry Soul
12 Willie Wam
Willie Mitchell Links
Hi Records Home Page
Red Kelly's the "A" Side and the "B" Side
Solid Soul was reissued on CD in 1993 (Hi 120) and again on Sept. 11, 2001 (Hi 182), on each occasion it was packaged as 2-for-1 with its successor, On Top. Both reissues are OOP and can fetch big bucks on line ($200 at Amazon! WTF!) so don't think twice and grab it if you see it for a reasonable price.
In the meantime, Soundological does your Willie a solid HERE or HERE.