Tommy Dougherty


Band members                             Related acts

- Tommy Dougherty -- vocals, keyboards

 

  supporting musicians (1975)

- Eddie Bayers -- drums

- Dennis Burnside -- keyboards

- Jack Jackson -- bass 

- Don Sheffield -- horns

- Paul Wurley -- guitars

 

 

 

- Tommy Dougherty with Lou Grimaldo & the Symbols

- Tommy Jackson

- Paul Jackson (son)

- Clarence Perry and the Mercy Blues

- Soul Incorporated

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Tommy Dougherty

Company: Guinness

Catalog: GNS 36010
Year:
 1977

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/NM

Comments: cut top right corner; sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5725

Price: $150.00

 

The tax scam Guinness label was renown for grabbing product anywhere it could, including previously released material and demos.  Given how musically diverse 1977's "Tommy Dougherty" was it's always struck me as being sourced from demos intended to showcase the namesake's writing and performing versatility.  Judging by these ten tracks Dougherty was a true chameleon-like performer.  The man was blessed with a remarkably versatile voice and aptly displayed it on this collection.  On the other hand, that didn't make for a particularly original or inventive collection.  Of course if you enjoy playing spot-the-influences, this one's a blast to hear.

 

"Tommy Dougherty" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sail Away

'Sail Way' started the set off with a stark, keyboard propelled ballad. Boasting a beautiful melody and employing an effective achy edge to his voice, Dougherty more than made up for the lame lyrics.  Dougherty's performance on this one has always reminded me of someone else, but for the life of me I've never been able to pinpoint who that performer is ...  I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise given he was frequently hired to do "sound alike" vocals (see below).   rating: **** stars

2.) Higher Power

On the heels of a sensitive singer/songwriter ballad 'Higher Power' came as a major surprise - a killer heavy rocker with a fantastic synthesizer bass line and kind of a Dr. John funky edge.  Great tune that would have sounded fantastic on mid-1970s radio.  rating: **** stars

3.) Way Down Club

Inspired by a Nashville club Dougherty frequently played, 'Way Down Club' was the kind of blues/soul song Delbert McClinton always wanted to find.  Rasping up his voice a couple of notches, this was a fantastic song that could have provided Dougherty with a hit single.  Odd thought to contemplate - a tax scam label scoring a hit.  Wonder what that would have done to the business plan ...   rating: **** stars

4.) Sweet Nature Woman

'Sweet Nature Woman' was another highly commercial track, though with a more top-40 orientation.  Remember the kind of lightweight fluff  you heard on mid-1970s top-40 radio (think along the lines of 'Rupert Hines The Pina Colada Song') and you'll get a feel for this one.  rating: **** stars

5.) Keep Me Warm   (Wolfie Cohen) - 

The first real disappointment; 'Keep Me Warm' was a bland and forgettable ballad that would have fit in the post-Raspberries Eric Carmen catalog.   rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) You Make It Easy   (Wolfie Cohen) - 

This is another one that's always reminded me of another act - mid-tempo soul number complete with female backing chorus, tasty horn charts and a catchy hook ... maybe the comparison would be Bill Champlin era Chicago?  rating: *** stars

2.) Crystal River

'Crystal River' had that Delaney and Bonnie southern Gospel thang goin' for it.  Won't appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed it.   rating: *** stars

3.) Bad News Morning

So why not take a stab at a country-influenced number in the form of 'Bad News Morning'.  A decent effort, but one I could live without.   rating: ** stars

4.) Silent Love Is Blue

Perhaps because the register was a little too high for Dougherty's comfort, 'Silent Love Is Blue' came off as pretty rough and one of the few performances where his voice wasn't very impressive.  Add to that the wimpy ballad simply wasn't very good and you have another loser.    rating: ** stars  

5.) The Sad Song

Ah, cheesy '70s synthesizers (this one recalling something Stevie Wonder might have played)  ...  Yeah I'm a sucker for that sound and couple with the female backing singers this was a classic slice of white boy funk.  Add in the flanged guitar, fuzzed up bass, and weird drums and this was great.  Only complaint is that it faded out just as it was starting to cook.  rating: **** stars

 

So what to make of it all?  Too varied to consider a great LP, but better than lots of the Guinness catalog and namesake Dougherty certainly had an impressive set of pipes.  Another one I'd love to know more about.

 

As indicated by the price, this is one of the more obscure Guinness releases.

 

postscript December, 2015

As it turned out, quite a bit of this material was "borrowed" from an earlier Dougherty LP.  With backing from an all star cast of Nashville players, in 1975 Dougherty released a collection entitled "Touch My Soul" on the small Emerald Gem label (catalog number GES1139).  It turns out 'Sail Way', ''Higher Power', 'Way Down Club' (named after a famous Nashville club), and 'Sad Song' were all lifted from the earlier album.  The other six tracks were apparently lifted from the same sessions.  Nothing more than speculation on my part, but I would guess the Nashville Audio Media Studio made the material available to Guinness in an effort to cover sunk recording costs.

 

 

I also stumbled across this release - credited to Tommy Dougherty with Leo Grimaldo & The Symbols"

- 1965's 'Karate K K' b/w 'Japan' (Dace City catalog number 101)

 

credited to Tommy Jackson and released  on Huey P. Meaux's Winni, Texas based Tear Drop label

- 1967's 'Cold Cold World' b/w 'A Torch I Carry' (Tear Drop catalog number 3191)

 

 

So out of the blue I got an email from Tommy Dougherty's son Paul. He was kind enough to direct me to his own website that has some information on his father. I'm going to go ahead and quote it verbatim with a link at the end. 

 

 

"Thomas Dougherty played soul music in Houston during the 1960s before moving to Nashville, Tennessee where he sang and recorded in the clubs and studios around Music City, USA. Tommy Dougherty sang numerous commercials and sound-alikes, but his soulful and funky recordings of his own music stand out the most. Tommy Dougherty packed up the family and moved from Houston to Nashville in 1972 after playing the top nightclubs in blues and soul bands during the 1960s. He started playing music in the 1950s as many other teenagers did then, buying a guitar after hearing Elvis Presley. He started out playing at strip clubs and other colorful dives in Houston. By the 1960s, Tommy was singing and playing Hammond B3 organ 5 or 6 nights a week at packed ballrooms and clubs in Houston with some of the best musicians in Texas. At the age of 31, Tommy Dougherty was playing in Nashville at the Backstage with Clarence Perry and the Mercy Blues, at that time the only rock n' roll bar in country town. Playing packed houses of around 600 people a night 5 nights a week for a couple of years during the roaring early 70s - what would shortly afterwards become the inspiration for the song Waydown Club, he worked on his craft and started getting attention from the music industry side. After turning down various offers and doing some writing for the House of Cash (Johnny's place), he signed an artist contract at Audio Media Studios because he could record the music he played - blues and soul. Now for those of you who haven't heard of Audio Media, those who were never involved in the Nashville music business or never lived in Nashville, there's something of a story there. Audio Media was a new studio in 1974 on Music Row, a partnership consisting of Jack Jackson, Pat Patrick, Paul Whitehead and Lou Lafredo. The studio band consisted of Eddie Bayers on drums, Dennis Bernside on piano, Jack Jackson on bass and Paul Wurley on guitar. You may not know any of these names if you haven't been involved in the Nashville recording scene, but for multitudes of artists that have gone through the doors of Nashville, these musicians and makers have provided the backing sound for many of the records recorded in Nashville, led record companies as top executives and so forth. Which leads to the reason for spilling out this story - in 1975-76, Tommy Dougherty and this cast of musicians, along with The Cherry Sisters on background vocals and a great horn section, recorded a rocking gospel blues record called Touch My Soul. Tommy wrote most of these songs and sang a few classics such as Amazing Grace. Gospel may not be most people's interest, but if you want that James Brown out of your seat conversion music, this is it. Think of that scene with JB in the Blues Brothers. But the highlight of those years consist of a pair of pop blues songs. One I mentioned already, 'Waydown Club', a funky song in the vein of Sly Stone and Billy Preston. But the true gem of these recordings is the song 'Sail Away'. This song belongs in the pantheon of classics, in my humble opinion. Listen to it for yourself. What you will hear is a group of young inspired musicians on fire. It's not just a story of Tommy Dougherty, it's a story of all of these incredible musicians that were together in the same place at the same time with a fire to create driving them on. And that's pretty much what you get with this group of songs, a group of players exploding but playing as tight as you can get. Of course these recordings were way too out of sync with what was going on in Nashville at the time. The LP "Touch My Soul" was sold in Europe while 'Sail Away' and the other tunes gathered dust in the vaults. All of the musicians involved went on to become successful after playing for years as the Audio Media house band for an amazing amount of Nashville acts, but they probably never had as much fun as they did recording these songs. Same for Tommy Dougherty, he went on to make a living as a session singer, singing those jingles and commercials. He's been compared to Ray Charles and Joe Cocker on a lot of occasions. I've heard him called the best singer in Nashville by a number of top-rated recording cats around the town. But that's beyond the point, I don't need to reaffirm to anyone what I already know. Go ahead and listen to this collection of songs by a group of young men in their 20s and early 30s who had yet reached their prime but were on top of the game. It's all about art, despite what the car salesman is trying to put off on you. Give it a listen and hear a side of Nashville history important to some and unknown to most. The story deserves to be told. Paul Dougherty Music C 2009 Bake It Black Records 

 

 

Sail Away (T. Dougherty) Waydown Club (T. Dougherty) Higher Power (T. Dougherty) Lullaby (T. Dougherty/Patrick) Touch My Soul (T. Dougherty) Before It's Time for Amen (T. Dougherty) He's on His Way (Meyers) He Cares (T. Dougherty) Prince of Galilee (T. Dougherty) Thank You for My Song (T. Dougherty) People Get Ready (Mayfield) Day by Day (Schwartz/Tebelak) Oh Happy Day (Hawkins) Amazing Grace (Trad. arr. T. Dougherty)

 

This was a hodgepodge of masters as well as demos for song pitching. In fact Guinness never informed Tommy that they released it. No relation to the metal guys. Check out the record he knew he was cutting: Touch My Soul, a JB in the church outing:

http://pauldougherty.org/tommy/tommy_dougherty.html

 

Yes, he's my father. I was looking for vinyl copies of Touch My Soul and ran across the Guinness record. I've got a strong urge to buy it from you, but I don't know if I can get this past the wife.
Anyway, the songs on the Guinness record as well as the ones on Touch My Soul were recorded at Audio Media Studios back then in Nashville, which was a hot non-country studio at the time. They ended up doing numerous sound alike recordings and KTell records. Tommy was the resident Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Randy Newman and Kenny Rogers voice.

Most of the players went on to do a lot of stuff. The drummer Eddie Bayers was the top drummer in Nashville for 20 years. The guitar player Paul Wurley ended up the president of Sony Records in Nashville, the bass player Jack Jackson ended up there as well. The piano player Dennis Burnside was one of the top ones. I don't know what happened to The Cherry Sisters, but they were quite fine.

My father ended up doing mainly commercials, in between hack Nashville producers trying to make his music country. Music City is a funny place.

Thought I would include that in case you want to add anything. Then again, the mystery works well. You can download or listen to his gospel record on the site. I generally don't listen to church music, but that's some funky stuff.

There's an outside chance I'll be contacting about sometime on the Guinness record.

Viele Gruesse aus Deutschland,
Paul

 

 

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