Friday, August 05, 2005

O.V. Wright - Love The Way You Love

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Mr. O.V. Wright
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Here’s one to start your weekend. Way back in the day (like 20 years ago) when I was first digging for soul 45s, O.V. Wright was one of the first artists I was lucky enough to find. Back then I had yet to develop a taste for polished Northern Soul type sounds, and my soul jones could only be soothed by the gritty Southern sound. Whether it was Stax, Goldwax, Fame or Back Beat, I liked my soul 45s dripping with barbecue sauce, onions and and echoes of the Amen Corner. This had a lot to do with the publication in 1986 of Peter Guralnick’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’, by far the best book ever written about Southern soul. Via Guralnick’s words I first found my way to giants like James Carr (‘Dark End of the Street’), Oscar Toney Jr. (‘Ain’t That True Love’) and Wright, and was lucky enough to have a source for many of their best 45s close at hand. Some of the earliest sides I dug up were classics that Wright recorded for Don Robey’s Back Beat label. Wright had started (like many soul greats) as a gospel singer, recording for Peacock with the Sunset Travelers. His first foray into secular music was the original 1964 version of ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’ for Goldwax (soon to be covered by the mighty Otis Redding). The notorious Robey (one of the great “record industry gangsters” about whom countless horror stories exist) discovered that he still had Wright under contract and brought him to back to the Back Beat label. Wright recorded 20 45’s and several LP’s for Back Beat between 1965 and his early 70’s move to Hi records. Among those 45s, are classics like ‘Eight Men Four Women’, and one of the greatest soul ballads ever recorded (at least in my opinion) , ‘I Want Everyone To Know (I Love You)’. ‘Love The Way You Love’, the 1968 flip side of Wright’s cover of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ is one of the most dynamic, rocking soul 45s of the 60’s. Produced by Willie Mitchell, the tune opens with snapping drums (the snare comes down like a sledgehammer), tambourine and a strong horn section. O.V. drops in with a wailing vocal, leading into one of the great, “build-up” choruses of all time with Wright trading lines with his backup singers. I need it... I want it... I LOVE the way you love! (Love the way you love) The hard, relentless beat makes this a great dancer as well. This is one of those records, where it boggles my mind that it wasn’t a hit at the time. It doesn’t seem to have resonated with reissuers either as it doesn’t appear on any of the available collections of Wright’s Back Beat recordings. ‘Blowin In The Wind’ (but not ‘Love The Way You Love’) appeared on Wright’s 1969 Back Beat LP “Nucleus Of Soul’. This leads me to believe that ‘Blowin’...’ may have been regarded as the A-side of the 45, making for one of the greatest miscarriages of justice (and taste) in the history of soul 45s (though if you’re lucky enough to find a copy of the LP, it does include ‘I Want Everyone To Know’). Sadly O.V. Wright struggled with (and succumbed to) drug addiction in his later years, passing in 1980. As I said before, ‘Love The Way You Love’ does not appear to be available in reissue. Those of you that dig for 45s can take heart that none of Wright’s Back Beat sides are not very rare, most falling in the $5 to $15 dollar range (and depending on where you’re digging, a lot less than that). I would however suggest picking up one of the comps of his Back Beat sides (grittier overall than his Hi recordings). I would also suggest – if you haven’t already – reading Peter Guralnick’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’, which is absolutely indispensable.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dan Phillips said...

I recently came across a bunch of OV's Back Beat 45's in a big lot I bought. I haven't had time to even look them over; but I hope this one's in there. Great side, Larry. Willie Mitchell is one awesome producer.

8/06/2005 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Scholar said...

Very nice post. I'm a huge fan of Wright's music, and your write-up was thorough and insightful.

8/06/2005 01:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Sebastian Fonzeus said...

Fantastic tune! Have you heard Buddy Lamp's much grittier (and in my opinion superior) version of this track entitled "Save Your Love" on the Wheelsville label out of Detroit? Also, the backing to the Buddy Lamp track was used for Lee Rogers "Sock Some Love Power To Me" on the Premium Stuff label. Solomon Burke also recorded a version of the O.V. Wright track entitled "Save It" on Atlantic. I'm sure there are other versions as well. I don't know which one is the original.

8/17/2005 05:35:00 AM  

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