Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wilson Pickett: "In the Midnight Hour"

The KonMari method of "tidying" frees up shelf space. Too, it inspires joyful reunions with half-forgotten CDs like this Wilson Pickett (1941-2006) anthology.  

The dapper, raspy-voiced Pickett came into his own with the release of "In the Midnight Hour." This track "entered the R & B chart on May 26, 1965, at number thirty-five," then "climbed to number one and spent nearly three months on the chart. . ." - Robert Gordon, Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), page 107. That was all it took to hit the big time.
Coming to Memphis for the "In the Midnight Hour" recording session, Alabama-born Detroiter Wilson Pickett stayed at the Lorraine Hotel (pictured above in a 2014 photo). Here he and guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the MG's put together the basics for "In the Midnight Hour." The rest was worked out in the Stax studio.

"'[T]hey built the record organically -- not deductively. I'd see the MG's come to work in the morning, hang up their coats, gather up their axes, and start playing music. Maybe it was some chord changes, maybe it was a lick, maybe it was a song, but they started playing, they started building it. I said, My God, this is fantastic'" - Jerry Wexler, quoted in  Robert Gordon, Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), page 107.

In this 1993 Wilson Pickett CD anthology, several strong tracks follow the big opener. I particularly like "634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)," "Land of 1000 Dances," "Mustang Sally," "Funky Broadway" and "She's Lookin' Good."

All right, look a-here! 
When you wear your wigs, baby, you wear your dresses tight 
You wear your 44, baby, when you step out late at night 
You're lookin' good . . .

Now that I've listened to this fun CD a few more times, pondered its contents, written about it and expressed gratitude  -- I can give it away. Yes!

Today's Rune: Wholeness. 


the walking man said...

I am glad you pay attention to times and culture that predates you by at least a decade Erik. Pickett was one of the few that Barry Gordy let get away, same as he did Aretha Franklin.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

There is little so fine as reconnecting with some long-forgotten music and reliving the joy. Kudos to you for passing it along to the next person!

t said...


is the four-four like, a gun, same as in rap music?

Charles Gramlich said...

In the midnight hour is definitely a good song.

Erik Donald France said...

Cheers, y'all ~ yes, t., 44 as in pistol. Howlin' Wolf has a track with it featured, and it appears in the Stones' "Heartbreaker," among others pre-1980.