11/11/2007

Willie Mitchell





I Wish It Would Rain

Willie Mitchell - On Top (London Records UK/Hi USA HAU 8388) 1968

Take Five; Poppin'; Canadian Sunset; Ain't Too Proud To Beg; Louie Louie; Big Power House; 30-60-90; Who's Making Love; I Say A Little Prayer; Come See About Me; I Wish It Would Rain; Sunshine Of Your Love

Produced By: Willie Mitchell

I have been a big fan of Willie Mitchell since a friend at school brought an That Driving Beat/Up Hard single in to play at lunch-time in the music room. Most fans of music in 1967 were either Mods or Rockers, I tried to be a Mod although I couldn't afford the nice suits or even the shirts. It was vinyl or Perry and vinyl won for me every time. I brought or Steve and myself brought (we shared the cost) all the the Willie Mitchell singles from there-on.
The track I'm playing today came much later, in fact I didn't come across this album until 30 years later! I Wish It Would Rain had been recorded by nearly all of Motown's artistes, but I suppose the Temptations was the most well known. Mitchell it turns out would be the main stay producer/Band for Hi Record's hits throughout the 70's with people like Al Green and Ann Peebles.
The cover of this album is probably why I never listened to it sooner, it looks like a close-up photo of a record styli with a man on top. But where it's lacking on the front it makes up on the rear. Photo's an names of all the musicians on the record. James Mitchell (Will's brother)-tenor sax Leroy Hodges-bass, Howard Grimes-drums (Al Jackson left to join Booker T), Mabon "Teenie" Hodges-guitar, Charles Hodges-organ & piano & Willie Michell-engineer/arranger. Prices: Uk 20-75 demo £50, Stomper Time 1160 £182 & UK Champion first issue £132.

Music.us edited bio: Born 3 January 1928, Ashland, Mississippi, USA. A veteran of several Memphis-based bands, Mitchell rose to prominence in the late 50s with an outfit that formed the basis for his production work and early solo recordings. The line-up included Lewis Steinberg and Al Jackson. By the 60s, Mitchell was leading the Hi Records house band.

The company was established on the success of Bill Black, the one-time Elvis Presley bassist whose economical instrumental singles suggested the style later forged at the Stax Records studio. Although Black died in 1965, releases bearing his name continued, with Mitchell's group supplying the music.

Mitchell's own recording career prospered with such classic Memphis offerings as 20-75 and Percolating' (both 1964), That Driving Beat and Everything Is Gonna' Be Alright (both 1966). Soul Serenade was a Top 10 US R&B single in 1968, but his releases were latterly obscured by his work with other artists.

Mitchell became vice-president at Hi in 1970, and proceeded to mould its 70s sound with production work for Al Green, Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles. Other sessions at his Royal Studio included those of Bobby Bland, Otis Clay and O.V. Wright. During the early part of the decade, Mitchell's classic band and the Memphis Horns - defined post-Stax southern soul.

Treasured moments still occurred, but the loss of Green, then Johnson, suggested an internal dissatisfaction. Mitchell resigned from Hi in 1979, three years after its acquisition by the Los Angeles-based Cream label, and joined the Bearsville label as a producer and artist. During the 80s he became a partner in a video production company and set up his Wayco outlet. In 1985, he was reunited with Al Green for the latter's He Is The Light and the following year's Going Away.

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