January 21, 2006

SOLDIER OF THE GOOD WAR:

Grits and Gospel: The Sublime Mix Of Wilson Pickett (Richard Harrington, January 21, 2006, Washington Post)

Wilson Pickett was a man and a half, the all-night groover at his best in a midnight hour that was not just a time but also a place and a promise.

"I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour/that's when my love comes tumblin' down ," Pickett sang with gruff insistence, melding the gospel urgency of his youth with a decidedly secular sexual swagger.

"In the Midnight Hour" was the first in a string of '60s classics that included "Mustang Sally," "634-5789," "Funky Broadway" and "Land of 1000 Dances," cornerstones of Southern soul and mainstays for any rock or soul band looking to tap into the particular jubilation that Pickett represented.

In a classic soul era largely defined by crooners and shouters, Pickett was a screamer, a throat-shredding force of nature who always seemed about to bust a gut or blow a gasket. He called what he did "grits music," and it could scald a listener or fire up a fan's imagination.

"Pickett could take one note and just squall that note, and do it all night long!" remembers Sam Moore, of the legendary '60s duo Sam and Dave. He adds that "when Pickett showed up on a show, you either had it together or you would get embarrassed and just walk off the stage. We had run-ins many times onstage where it was a war -- and it was a good war."


Though, by all accounts, there are two guys who everyone was terrified of goping up against on stage: Howlin' Wolf and James Brown. No one would follow either.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2006 11:40 AM
Comments

Grits music? Didn't know Canadians had that kind of soul.

Posted by: Rick T. at January 21, 2006 11:53 AM

Anyone remember Hank Ballard?

Posted by: jdkelly at January 21, 2006 6:59 PM

jdkelly;
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters were a superb group, 1950's soul and R&B radio KDIA in Oakland, CA played a lot of their music. Of course, so did most of the top 40 and/or R&R radio stations.
oj,
Never saw Howlin' Wolf, but from a James Brown show I certainly agree, no one would follow him as he'd never leave the stage if there were more than ten people left in the audience.
Mike

Posted by: Mike Daley at January 21, 2006 10:23 PM
« THE PROFESSOR WHO WALKED INTO DOORS: | Main | IT'S ALL HIS OWN IDEA: »