Wilson Pickett

Band members                              Related acts

- Wilson Pickett (RIP 2006) -- vocals


  supporting musicians: (1971)

- Tippy Armstrong -- guitar

- Jack Ashford -- percussion

- Barry Beckett - keyboards

- Eddy Brown -- percussion

- Dennis Coffee (aka Coffey) -- guitar 

- Dave Crawford -- keybaords 

- Roger Hawkins - drums

- David Hood -- bass 

- Wayne Jackson -- trumpet

- Andrew Love -- sax




- The Falcons

- The Soul Clan




Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  The Wicked Pickett

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: 8138

Year: 1966

Country/State: Prattville, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG

Comments: mono pressing; "George" written in magic marker on front cover; two inch split along top right hand edge' "Mustang Sally" promotional sticker on cover (not shown in picture above)

Available: 1

Gatalog ID: 4175

Price: $35.00

All hyperbole aside, 1966's "The Wicked Pickett" is nothing less than a classic slice of 1960s soul - one of the few albums I'd award five stars.  Produced by Jerry Wexler and Rick Hall with backing from the cream of Muscles Shoals sessions players, including Chips Moman on lead guitar, Spooner Oldham on keyboards and Roger Hawkins on drums, Wilson Pickett seldom sounded as good.  Always a charismatic performer, here Pickett  literally sounded possessed as he wailed, screeched and groaned his way through the album's twelve tracks.  How can you go wrong with the combination of great production, wonderful songs; and some simply stunning performances?  I dare anyone to try sitting still through Pickett's cover of 'New Orleans', or the blazing 'You Left the Water Running without at least starting to tap their feet  ...  Interestingly, compared to Pickett's last couple of albums, the LP wasn't a smash, peaking at # 42 on the pop charts.  That said, Pickett still enjoyed a pair of top-40 hits via:


'Mustang Sally' b/w 'Three Time Loser' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2365) and a rave-up cover of Solomon Burke's

'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' b/w 'Nothing You Can Do' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2381).   


"The Wicked Pickett" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Mustang Sally   (Bonny Rice) - 3:04

2.) New Orleans   (Frank Guida) - 2:32

3.) Sunny   (Bobby Hebb) - 3:16

4.) Everybody Needs Somebody To Love   (Bert Berns - Solomon Burke - Jerry Wexler) - 2:16

5.) Ooh Poo Pah Doo   (Jessie Hill) - 2:37

6.) She Ain't Gonna Do Right   (Dan Penn - Linden Oldham) - 2:15


(side 2)

1.) Knock On Wood   (Eddy Floyd - Steve Cropper) - 2:40 

2.) Time Is On My Side   (Norman Meade) - 2:31

3.) Up Tight Good Woman   (Dan Penn - Linden Oldham) - 2:29

4.) You Left the Water Running   (Dan Penn - Rick Hall - Oscar Franck) - 2:31

5.) Three Time Loser   (Don Covay - Ronnie Miller) - 2:19

6.) Nothing You Can Do   (Bobby Womack) - 2:14


YouTube has a couple of dazzling performances of material from the LP:



'Mustang Sally' at a 1968 German date



'Mustang Sally' 1966 television appearance



'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' 1966 television appearance





Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  The Midnight Mover

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 8183

Year: 1968

Country/State: Prattville, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Gatalog ID: 1410

Price: $35.00


Perhaps because it wasn't one of Wilson Pickett's  biggest commercial successes (# 81 US pop album charts), his 1968 album "The Midnight Mover" seems  to have been largely forgotten.  That's a sad commentary on our  collective memories, since this album was as good as anything else in Pickett's extensive recording catalog.


Produced by Tom Dowd, for the most part the album wasn't a major change in direction for Pickett.  That said, the album included a couple of interesting features; chief among them was the participation of Bobby Womack.  Womack was credited with writing, or co-writing six of the ten tracks and Womack tunes such as  'I'm a Midnight Mover', 'I Found a True Love', 'It's a Groove', and 'Trust Me' were among the best things Pickett ever recorded.  The pair clearly had a nice partnership going.  Shame it didn't continue.   Elsewhere, for some odd reason the album included both sides of Picket's 1964 Atlantic debut 'I'm Gonna Cry' and 'For Better or Worse' .  Both were great tunes, but sounded oddly old-school and out of place on the album.   The album's oddest track was the ballad 'Deborah'.  Seemingly recorded for European audiences, the song featured Pickett singing some of the lyrics in Italian.  One of Pickett's most consistent and enjoyable albums, there wasn't a single bad performance on the album.  Well worth finding a copy. 


"The Midnight Mover" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I'm a Midnight Mover   (Wilson Pickett - Bobby Womack) - 2:39

People say it all the time, but all hyperbole aside, the title track was worth the cost of the album by itself.  Co-written by Pickett and the late Bobby Womack, this was one of those tunes where it's simply impossible to sit still ...  well I guess if you were comatose you could lie there.   Simply one of the best things Pickett ever recorded and if my beat ears don't deceive me, you can actually hear a bit of Womack on the backing vocals.  Atlantic tapped it as the leadoff single.   rating: ***** stars

2.) It's a Groove  (Bobby Womack - Linda (Cooke) Womack) - 2:48

Slinky, old-school ballad written by Womack and his then-wife Linda (Sam Cooke's widow).  Opening up with a Gospel-feel, the track bore a momentary resemblance to a classic Solomon Burke tune, but Pickett's unique sound quickly came out.  He seldom sounded as good as on this one.   Always wondered if that was Womack on the backing vocal.    rating: **** stars

3.) Remember, I Been Good To You   (Bobby Womack - Darryl Carter - Mariea Tynes) - 2:57

I'm probably giving myself too much credit, but given this tune's breezy, easy-going charm, I've always thought I could have guessed it was penned by Bobby Womack.  Classic Pickett with wonderful country-tinged guitar; and great Womack backing vocals.  Another winner and one of the best things on a stellar album.   rating: **** stars

4.) I'm Gonna Cry   (Wilson Pickett- Don Covay) - 2:18

The presence of 'I'm Gonna Cry' was kind of a mystery.  One of two songs produced by Pickett, the tune was originally released in 1964, serving as Pickett's Atlantic debut:


- ' I'm Gonna Cry' b/w 'For Better Or Worse' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2233)


There was nothing wrong with the song; in fact it was another album highlight, but it had a distinctive old-school feel and sound.    rating: **** stars

5.) Deborah   (Pallavicini Sigman - Conti Sigman - Carl Sigman) - 3:06

Another strange tune - Pickett singing part of the lyric in Italian ...  The song started out sounding almost like an operatic movement, but about a minute in, switched gears into a roaring soul tune, before closing out with more Italian.  YouTube has a black and white clip of Pickett performing the tune for Italian television.  Weird, but fascinating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq93M-loI4w   The tune was released as a single throughout Europe.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) I Found a True Love   (Wilson Pickett - Bobby Womack) - 2:22

The pounding 'I Found a True Love' placed Pickett firmly back in prime soul territory.  One of the album's most conventional and commercial tunes, you just had to marvel at how effortless Pickett made it all sound. Shame the song faded out so early.   Atlantic tapped it as a single.    rating: **** stars

2.) Down By the Sea   (Wilson Pickett) - 2:54

Wanna hear Pickett give Otis a run for his money ?   Here's your chance.   Classic soul ballad that underscored just what a great singer Pickett was.   rating: **** stars

3.) Trust Me   (Bobby Womack) - 3:10

Womack's 'Trust Me' was supposedly originally intended for Janis Joplin.  Regardless, there are few things as impressive as Pickett in front of the pulpit of love ...   Hard to understand why this beautiful heart wrenching tune wasn't tapped as a single.   Another tune that sounded like it had Bobby Womack on backing vocals.   rating: **** stars

4.) Let's Get an Understanding    (Wilson Pickett - Bobby Womack - Darryl Carter) - 2:09

Another pounding soul number with upbeat "we got to get together" ;lyrics,, 'Let's Get An Understanding' was hysterical for it's brief psychedelic excursion with Pickett demanding Pickett and the rest of the band return to the song's original soul orientation.  rating; **** stars

5.) For Better or Worse   (Wilson Pickett - Don Juan Mancha) - 2:52

The second Pickett produced tune, 'For Better or Worse' was originally the flip side to his debut Atlantic single 'I'm Gonna Cry'.  Like 'I'm Gonna Cry' it had a distinctive old-school sound, though Pickett's tear-out-my-throat performance was quite impressive.   rating: *** stars


As mentioned above, in addition to the 1964 single, the album included two US singles and a third European release:

- 1968's 'Midnight Mover' b/w 'Deborah' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2528)

- 1968's 'I Found a True Love' b/w 'For Better or Worse' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2558)

- 1968's 'Deborah' b/w 'Down By the Sea' (Atlantic various countries and catalog number)





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Miz Lena's Boy

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: APL1-0312

Country/State: Prattville, Alabama

Year: 1973

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch lower right edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5586

Price: $20.00


When Wilson Pickett died in January 1, 2006 I was astounded to learn that he'd lived and died within five minutes of my home outside of Washington. D.C.   According to local newspaper articles, Pickett lived in a typical Northern Virginia suburban community, was liked by his neighbors, and between tours and performances, did what suburbanites do - cut the lawn, barbequed, etc.   Anyhow, when he passed on as kind of a personal tribute  I pulled a bunch of my Pickett albums and listened to them over the long holiday weekend.  Sitting in the pile was an album I'd somehow never gotten around to listening to - 1973's "Miz Lena's Boy".  


His second album for RCA Victor after ending his decade long partnership with Atlantic, the album found Wilson working with producer Brad Shapiro (Pickett co-produced).  With the pair also co-writing half of the ten songs I really didn't know what to expect from the set.  Moreover the few reviews I'd seen weren't very detailed, or positive.


"Miz Lena's Boy" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Take a Closer Look at the Woman You're With   (Wilson Pickett - Brad Shapiro) - 2:52

The album certainly got off to a rousing start with the Pickett-Shapiro original 'Take a Closer Look at the Woman You're With' which was as driving and funky as anything he'd done for Atlantic.   rating: **** stars

2.) Memphis, Tennessee   (Chuck Berry) - 3:50

While I initially yawned at the thought of hearing the second song; be a cover of Chuck Berry's 'Memphis, Tennessee' Wilson breathed new life into the song giving it a strange but beguiling Caribbean lilt.  Sounds weird, but somehow it worked.  rating: *** stars

3,) Soft Soul Boogie Woogie   (Seals - Goodman - Jennings) - 2:37

The same was true for 'Soft Soul Boogie Woogie'.  It initially came off as being a too-cute novelty song, but propelled by a nice mini-moog rhythm pattern and a driving vocal, Pickett won me over.   rating: **** stars

4.) Help Me Make It Through the Night   (Kris Kristofferson) - 3:00

Kris Kristofferson's 'Help Me Make It Through the Night' has always been one of those songs I disliked and there was not reason to think a Pickett cover would save it.  Amazingly he almost pulled it off.  The song still sucks, but by going up tempo with it he came close to salvaging the track.   rating: *** stars

-5.) Never My Love   (Don Addrisse - Dick Addrisse) - 4:26

n contrast slowing down the old Association hit (mis-credited to the Addrisse brothers - no 'e' at the end), was a mistake.  All he did is stretch 'Never My Mind' to the limits of endurance.   rating: ** stars


(side 2)

1.) You Lay'd It On Me   (Wilson Pickett - Don Covay - Brad Shapiro) - 3:15

Yeah, 'You Lay'd It On Me' had that 'tossed off' feel with one or two too many of those patented Pickett shrieks.  'Course mediocre Pickett was better than 95% of disco acts.

2.) Is Your Love Life Better   (Fox - Raleigh) - 3:15   rating: *** stars

At least to my ears 'Is Your Love Life Better' was one of the three tracks that came the closest to replicating Pickett's classic sound.  Would have made a nice single.   rating: **** stars

-3.) Two Women and a Wife   (Wilson Pickett - Brad Shapiro) - 2:45

The second song that replicated his classic soul sound was the Pickett-Shapiro composition 'Two Women and a Wife'.  With a great melody, catchy lyric, and dynamite performance, it was perfect for radio play, but somehow got stuck as a 'B' side.   rating: **** stars


Pickett's always been in peak form when he was pissed off at a woman, or another man.  The last two tracks 'Why Don't You Make Your Mind Up' and 'Take the Pollution Out Your Throat' found him in that state of mind and were my two favorite efforts.  

4.) Why Don't You Make Your Mind Up   (Wilson Pickett - Brad Shapiro) - 2:45

Another Wilson-Shapiro composition, the hyper speed 'Why Don't You Make Your Mind Up' would have sounded good on any of his Atlantic albums.   rating: **** stars

5) Take the Pollution Out Your Throat   (Wilson Pickett - Brad Shapiro) - 2:45I remember seeing the title of the second song and wondering if Pickett was making an environmental statement.  He wasn't, rather was taking on a trash-talking ex.  Classic pissed off Pickett !!!  rating: **** stars


Having listened to the album dozens of times I'm at a loss as to why critics overlooked the set and why it didn't sell better.  One of the best post-Atlantic things the man ever recorded.


RCA also tapped the album for a pair of singles:

- 1973's 'Take a Closer Look at the Woman You're With' b/w 'Two Women and a Wife' (RCA Victor catalog number APBO-0049)

- 1973's 'Soft Soul Boogie Woogie' b/w 'Take the Pollution Out of Your Throat' (RCA Victor catalog number APBO-0149)





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Don't Knock My Love

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 8300

Country/State: Prattville, Alabama

Year: 1973

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor staining on bottom edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 217

Price: $15.00


Produced by Brad Shapiro and Dave Crawford and backed by the Muscle Shoals crew (along with Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey - misspelled as Dennis Coffee), 1971's "Don't Knock My Love" was one of Pickett's last classic releases.  Musically the album was fairly diverse with Pickett taking stabs at a wide variety of genres including pop ('Call My Name, I'll Be There'), old-school soul ('(Your Love Has Brought Me) A Mighty Way Long'), funk ('You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover'), and even AOR rock (a cover of Free's 'Fire and Rain').  Pickett's instantly recognizable voice was in wonderful form throughout  In fact, the only complaint here was the absence of Pickett originals - only three of the twelve songs were Pickett originals.  Curiously, for some reason the songs were programmed so they all segued into one another.   


"Don't Knock My Love" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Fire and Water  (Andy Fraser - Paul Rodgers) - 3:35

I've got to admit to being surprised by how good Pickett's cover of Free's 'Fire and Rain' was.   He stayed pretty close to the original melody, but managed to inject some classic soul moves into the song that Paul Rodgers could only dream about (nobody yelps as good as Pickett).   YouTube has a nice  performance of the track - love the silver suit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dTggduPfBE   rating: **** stars

2.) (Your Love Has Brought Me) A Mighty Way Long   (Jackie Avery - Earl Simms - Carlton McWilliams) - 3:02

'(Your Love Has Brought Me) A Mighty Way Long' found Pickett diving into old school soul with stunning results.  Propelled by some tasty Pickett harmonica and those patented yelps, this one was every bit as good as his mid-'60s classic releases.   rating: **** stars

3.) Covering the Same Old Ground   (George Jackson - Raymond Moore - James Dotson) - 3:25

Wade Marcus' heavily orchestrated opening was a bit jarring, but when it faded out and Pickett started singing things rapidly improved.   Not nearly as impressive as the first two songs, but a petty ballad that showed he could do it all.   rating: *** stars

4.) Don't Knock My Love - Pt 1   (Wilson Pickett - Brad Shapiro) - 2:39

Opening up with some heavy Latin percussion, 'Don't Knock My Love - Pt 1' found Pickett taking a stab at lightweight urban funk.  Yeah, the chirping female backing singers were distracting, but the overall effect was impressive.  Here's a link to a Soul Train performance of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-03-clz9h4   rating: *** stars

5.) Don't Knock My Love - Pt 2 (instrumental)   (Wilson Pickett - Brad Shapiro) - 4:054

The instrumental 'Don't Knock My Love - Pt 2' opened up with some gurgling sound effects and what sounded like Dennis Coffey's guitar.  To my ears this one sounded like Norman Whitfield penned incidental music for an early-'70s blaxploitation flick.   It actually had kind of a nightmarish quality to it and was notable for giving the Muscle Shoals crew an opportunity to stretch out far beyond their normal limits.  Check out bassist David Hood's work.     rating: *** stars

6.) Call My Name, I'll Be There   (Willie Martin - Dave Crawford - Brad Shapiro) - 2:27

One of the most pop-oriented things he ever recorded, 'Call My Name, I'll Be There' sounded like it had been written specifically for radio airplay.  It's a bit cheesy, but had a catchy hook.  rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) Hot Love   (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke - Brad Shapiro) - 3:06

'Hot Love' wasn't going to win any awards for lyrical content, but was pretty funky, even if Pickett sounded like he was largely going through the motions.  The song also had some great work from the Muscle Shoals Horns.    rating: *** stars

2.) Hot Enough Love To Satisfy   (Clyde Wilson - Ronald Dunbar) - 3:05

Opening up with some Dennis Coffey fuzz guitar, things got back on track with the breezy 'Hot Enough Love To Satisfy'.   Complete with killer melody and pleading vocals, this was another song that recalled classic '60s Pickett.  One of my favorite tunes on the set.       rating: **** stars

3.) You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover   (Stevie Wonder - Henry Cosby - Sylvia Moy) - 2:58

Probably the album's funkiest number, Pickett's cover of 'You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover' was good enough to give the Stevie Wonder original a run for the money.  Personally, this is one of the tracks I would have tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

4.) Pledging My Love   (Don Robey - Fernand Washington) - 3:22I

 think the Johnny Ace and Delbert McClinton cover versions are better known, but Pickett's low-keyed cover of 'Pledging My Love' wasn't half bad - made even better because he didn't push it.   rating: *** stars

5.) Mama Told Me Not To Come   (Randy Newman) - 2:46

Randy Newman wrote the tune and Three Dog Night sold it, while Pickett's cover of 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' toughened the song up.  While I like Pickett's arrangement, the Three Dog Night version remains the standard.  rating: ** stars

6.) Woman Let Me Be Down Home   (Wilson Pickett - Clyde Otis) - 3:06

The album ended with the Pickett-penned 'Woman Let Me Be Down Home'.  Sporting another catchy melody and some of Pickett's dark, almost ominous lyrics, you were left with a clear vision of a frustrated, hen-pecked husband who was about to blow a gasket.  Cool song.   rating: **** stars 


Atlantic tapped the album for a series of three singles.



- 1971's 'Don't Knock My Love - Pt 1' b/w 'Don't Knock My Love - Pt 2' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2797)

- 1971's 'Call My Name, I'll Be There' b/w 'Woman Let Me Be Down Home' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2852)

- 1971's 'Fire and Water' b/w 'Pledging My Love' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2852)


True he was no longer the commercial juggernaut of the past, but anyone listening to this set had to wonder why Atlantic let Pickett go.





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Join Me and Let's Be Free

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: APL1-0856

Country/State: Prattville, Alabama

Year: 1975

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1526

Price: $20.00


1975's "Join Me & Let's Be Free" found Wilson Pickett working in Los Angeles with  producer Yusuf Rahman.  Rahman was also credited with handled the musical arrangements and co-writing most of the album's nine tracks with Pickett.  As Pickett's final release for RCA Victor,  the collection wasn't one of his classic offerings, but f\was far better than you would have expected given RCA's shoddy marketing effort - the company didn't even bother releasing a single off the album.   The good news was that Pickett's voice remained instantly recognizable and all of his performance tricks - the screams, squeals and the squawks remained in prime former throughout these grooves.  The album was also interesting for the surprising amount of Pickett-penned material.  Never known as a prodigious writer, this time around Picket wrote, or co-wrote over half of the songs.  Admittedly, musically the set was kind of a hodge-podge, bouncing between commercial, pop-oriented tracks (the slinky 'Good Things'), and more old-school, soul-oriented tracks like the title track, 'Smokin' In the United Nations' and the ballad 'Gone'.  It certainly had moments, but just wasn't consistent enough to be considered a real success.


"Join Me and Let's be Free" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Join Me & Let's Be Free   (Wilson Pickett) - 4:17

Perhaps because he wrote the tune, Pickett sounded enthusiastic and in prime form on the keyboard-powered soulful title track.  An up-tempo, lyrically upbeat Gospel-tinged number, 'Join Me & Let's be Free' would not have sounded out of place on one of his classic Atlantic albums.   rating: *** stars

2.) Let's Make Love Right   (Wilson Pickett  - Yusuf Rahman - Thomas Terry) - 2:56

Hum, Pickett trying to give rock a shot. Unfortunately even his arsenal of vocal tricks couldn't save this fragment of a song.   rating: ** stars 

3.) I've Got a Good Friends   (Wilson Pickett - Yusuf Rahman) - 4:41

Bluesy-Gosel-tinged number that showcased how strong Pickett's voice was.  Would have been even better without the bleating female backing singers.    rating: *** stars

4.) Smokin' In the United Nations   (Wilson Pickett  Yusuf Rahman - Kevin Beamish) - 3:40

Even though it was little more than a slice of throwaway funk, the title was so hysterical and Pickett's performance so over-the-top, you couldn't help but smile through this one.  Shame it faded out so soon.   rating: **** stars

5.) Gone    (Yusuf Rahman) - 3:17

Few can do old school ballads as well as Pickett.  Doubt it ?  Check out 'Gone'.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) Good Things   (Robert Welsh - Charles Wright) - 4:46

'Good Things' sported the album's best groove and a killer slide guitar solo ...  literally hard to sit still through this one.   rating: **** stars

2.) High Conciousness    (Yusuf Rahman) -3:02

Ah, a gritty, old school soul number that reflected a return to prime Pickett form !!!  rating: **** stars

3.) Bailin' Hay On a Rainy Day   (Wilson Pickett) - 3:26

Clarence Carter-styled country-soul story tune.  The refrain was nice, though the rest of the tune sounded a little warmed over.    rating: *** stars

4.) Mighty Mouth     (Yusuf Rahman - Judith Raifman) - 3:25

Clearly meant to be cute, but it simply sounded tired, cliched, and un-inspired.   rating: ** stars