Saturday, August 4, 2007

At The Dark End

Although James Carr never really became a household name, he is often condsidered to be in the same class as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin & Sam & Dave when it comes to raw emotion and power in his vocals. His chronic depression became the main obstacle in his career derailing recording sessions as well as numerous comeback attempts. Carr hit his stride in 1966 with his now classic recording of Dark End of the Street. Despite his new found success, Carr couldn't handle the stress of touring where he would frequently wander off on his own. By 1968, his mental state had deteriorated greatly, making even recording sessions a challenge. He was able to complete a second LP, 1968's A Man Needs a Woman, but in Muscle Shoals for his last session for Goldwax Records in 1969, he simply sat at the microphone and stared into space, singing only one song (the Bee Gees' To Love Somebody). Not long afterward, Goldwax went bankrupt. Wary of the singer's instability, Capitol rescinded an offer to buy out his contract, and although Carr signed with Atlantic, he released only one single in 1971. James Carr released just a few more albums over the next 25 years including his 1994 effort Soul Survivor. He was soon after diagnosed with lung cancer to which he succumbed in 2001.

James Carr: Life Turned Her That Way

Released in 1968 on his A Man Needs a Woman LP, this track truly displays James Carr's vocal prowess. The song slowly builds to a masterful crescendo that echoes the Otis Redding classic Try a Little Tenderness.

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