Johnny Adams

Band members                             Related acts

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- Johnny Adams (aka Lathan John Adams) (RIP 1998) -- vocals




- Bessie Griffin and the Soul Consolators

- The Soul Reviewers





Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Heart & Soul

Company: SSS International

Catalog:  SSS # 5

Country/State: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2749

Price: $75.00

I doubt anyone would accuse Shelby Sumpter Singleton Jr. of being the most scrupulous manager in music.  That said, he deserves some credit for signing the late Johnny Adams to a contract with his SSS International label in 1968.


Born and raised in New Orleans, Adam started his career out in Gospel.  By the late-'50s he turned his attention to non-secular material, signing with Joe Ruffino's Ric label.  Over the next decade he accumulating a substantial recording career across Ric and multiple small, regional labels.

- 1959's 'I Won't Cry' b/w 'Who Are You' (RIC catalog number 961)

- 1959's 'Come On' b/w 'Nowhere To Go' (RIC catalog number 963)

- 1960's 'The Bells Are Ringing' b/w 'Teach me To Forget' (RIC catalog number 966)

- 1960's 'Let the Wind Blow Me' b/w 'Someone for Me' (RIC catalog number 971 RIC)

- 1961's 'You Can Make It If You Try' b/w 'Closer To You' (RIC catalog number 976 RIC)

- 1961's 'Wedding Day' b/w 'Ooh So Nice' (RIC catalog number 980 RIC)

- 1961's 'I Solemnly Promise' b/w 'Life is Just a Struggle' (RIC catalog number 983)

- 1962's 'Showdown' b/w 'Tra La La' (RIC catalog number 992)

- 1962's 'A Losing Battle' b/w 'Who's Gonna Love You' (RIC catalog number 986) # 27 R&B

- 1962's 'A Losing Battle' b/w 'Who's Gonna Love You' (RON catalog number 986)

- 1963's 'Comn' Around the Mountain' b/w 'Cold Cold Heart (RON catalog number 996)

- 1963's 'I Believe I'll find Happiness' b/w 'I Brought It All On Myself' (Watch catalog number 6330)

- 1964's 'Some Day' b/w 'Part of Me' (Watch catalog number 6333)

- 1964's 'Lonely Drifter' b/w 'I Want To Do Everything for You' (RON catalog number 995)

- 1965's 'Spunky Onions' b/w ' A Place Called Home' (Pacemaker catalog number PM 240)

- 1965's 'Going To the City' b/w 'I'm Grateful' (Gone catalog number G-5147)

- 1966's 'When I'll Stop Loving You' b/w '(Sometimes) A Man will Shed a Few Tears Too (Pacemaker catalog number PM 249)

- 1966's 'Operator' b/w 'Let Them Talk (Pacemaker catalog number PM 255)

- 1967's 'Got To Get Back To You' b/w 'Time and Time Again' (Watch catalog number 1903)

- 1968's 'Release Me' b/w 'You make a New Man Out of Me' (Watch catalog number 1906) 


Having heard Adams' 'Release Me' single, in 1968 Shelby Singleton bought out his contract with Wardell Quezergue's Watch Records, signing him to the Nashville-based SSS International label.  Produced by Singleton, 1968's "Heart & Soul" offered up a mixture off older, previously released singles and newer studio tracks.  Pulling together from Adams' extensive recording catalog, the earlier tunes covered the spectrum from his 1959 debut single 'I Won't Cry' to his final recording for Quezerque's Watch label - 1968's 'Release Me'.  Equally impressive, the newer material included tracks like the opener 'Georgia Morning Dew' and 'I Can't Be All Bad'.  Given the decade range of these tunes, the sound and was all over the map, touching on blues, country-soul, doo-wop, Gospel, and conventional '60s soul.  Throughout  Adams' amazing voice provided consistency across the album.  It's one of the few albums in my collection where every track is worth owning.  All hyperbole aside, song-for-song, this is one of the best soul album's I've ever heard.  No self-respecting collector should be without a copy.  Singleton also deserved some sort of marketing award for mining the album for a stunning seven singles.


"Heart & Soul" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Georgia Morning Dew   (Margaret Lewis - Myrna Smith) - 3:25   rating: **** stars

Darn, how was it possible radio would play Clarence Carter, but wanted nothing to do with Johnny Adams ?  A stunningly good country-soul story song, the Duane Allman-styled slide guitar on this one was alone worth the price of admission.  Bless their souls, SSS International tapped it as a single, though nobody was listening:

- 1970's 'George Morning Dew' b/w 'Real Live Living Huntin' Man' (SSS International catalog number #SSS-797)

2.) In a Moment of Weakness  (Naomi Martin -Vivian Keith - Ray Riley)  - 2:35   rating: **** stars

A classic New Orleans flavored melody with some dazzling Duane Allman-styled slide guitar made 'In a Moment of Weakness' irresistible.   If you're in a soul cover band, this is a track you should consider adding to your repertoire.

3.) Real Live Living Huntin' Man   (Margaret Lewis - Myrna Smith) - 3:19   rating: **** stars

'Real Live Living Huntin' Man' should quickly erase any doubts with respect to the man's blues roots.  Killer tune with some fantastic drumming.  I would love to know who the studio players were on this track ...   Funny, but on this track his vocal has always reminded me of Tom Jones.

4.) Lonely Man   (Johnny Adams - Mack Rabnack) - 2:37   rating: **** stars

Beautiful, surprisingly sophisticated pop ballad that showcased what a strong voice Adams owned.   In spite of the liner notes, I'm guessing this song was co-written by the famed Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John).  That was probably him on keyboards as well.   SSS International released the track as a single.  Curiously, on the single the song was credited to Leroy Tooks.:

- 1969s 'Lonely Man' b/w 'Come and Get It' (SSS International catalog number #785)

5.) I Won't Cry   (Dorthy LoBostrie - Fuffino) - 2:17   rating: *** stars

Dorthy LaBostrie was an aspiring New Orleans-based song writer who was also briefly an Adams housemate with Adams.  Through that connection she convinced Adams to add a vocal to her song and in 1959 it was released as Adams' initial single for Joe Ruffino's New Orleans-based Ric label.  Produced by then 19 year old Mac Rebbenack, it certainly had a period sound, but I have to tell you it was a wonderful performance. Doo-wop for people who don't like doo-wop.

- 1970's 'I Won't Cry' b/w 'I Want To Walk Thru This Life with You' (SSS International catalog number SSS 809) # 41 R&B

6.) Release Me   (E. Miller - D. Williams - R. Yount) - 2:46 

'Release Me' was originally released in 1968 on Wardell Quezerque's Watch label.  A heartbreaking ballad that showcased Adams' versatile voice, it was his fourth single for the label and was the song that attracted Singleton's attention; getting Adams signed to SSS International.  Singleton promptly re-issued the track:

- 1968's 'Release Me' b/w 'If I Could See You One More Time' (SSS International catalog number SSS 750) # 82 pop; # 34 R&B



(side 2)

1.) Proud Woman   (Fred Burch - Skip Gibbs) - 2:40  rating: **** stars

Adams wasn't the most physical guy you've ever seen which made his gigantic voice even more impressive.  Those pipes were seldom as obvious as on the up-tempo soul beller 'Proud Woman'.  

- 1970's 'Proud Woman' b/w 'Real Live Living Huntin' Man' (SS International catalog number # 787)

2.) I Can't Be All Bad   (Margaret Lewis - Myrna Smith)  - 3:04   rating: **** stars

More of a blues number than a soul tune, as good as Adams' vocals were (check him out when he reaches for the high notes), the real highlight on 'I Can't Be All Bad' was  the stinging Duane Allman-styled slide guitar throughout the arrangement.

- 1969's 'I Can't Be All Bad' b/w 'In a Moment of Weakness) (SSS International catalog number 780) # 89 pop; # 45 R&B

3.) A Losing Battle   (Mac Rebbenack - Dauenhauser) - 2:23   rating: **** stars

Adams' first taste of commercial success came with this 1962 release.  It's a classic bluesy tune with the kind of "broken man" delivery that Adams perfected.  This was another performance that should have catapulted the man to the top.

4.) Living On Your Love    (Don Hill - John Koechner) - 1:45   rating: **** stars

Thanks to the wonderful Steve Cropper-styled guitar, 'Living On Your Love' was the album's strangest tunes.  That wasn't meant as a criticism since the "rock" format suited Adams voice well.  The only thing wrong with this tune was it simply wasn't long enough.   Why in the world did they fade it out so early ?

5.) Reconsider Me  (Margaret Lewis - Myrna Smith) - 3:50  # 28 pop; # 3 R&B   rating: **** stars

The fact more people know this song as an Engelbert Humperdinck hit may not be criminal, but is certainly a sad commentary on the music business, ... This was Adams biggest hit and the song that got him signed to SSS International, but today his version is all but unknown outside of soul connoisseur circles.  About all you can say is the man had an amazing voice !!!

- 1969's 'Reconsider Me' b/w '' (SSS International catalog number SSS 770X) # 28 pop; # 8 R&B


Suffering from prostrate cancer, only 66, Adams died in September 1998.