Joe Simon

Band members                              Related acts

- Joe Simon -- vocals


  supporting musicians (1972)

- Ronald Baker -- bass

- Roland Chambers -- guitar

- Norman Harris -- guitar

- Leon Huff -- keyboards

- Vince Montana - vibes

- Lawrence Pakula -- keyboards

- T.J. Tindall -- guitar

- Earl Young -- percussion

- Larry Washington -- percussion



- The Golden West Singers




Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  No Sad Songs

Company: Sound Stage 7

Catalog: STA 15004

Year: 1968

Country/State: Simmesport, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5994

Price: $20.00


I own quite a bit of his recording catalog, but I'll readily admit that I've never been the world's biggest Joe Simon fan.  Blame it on the fact his voice has always struck me as somewhat limited and 'metallic'.  Also, while the guy has an extensive recording catalog, much of the latter day country-soul stuff simply sounds like the same ideas recycled over and over.


As Simon's sophomore album for Sound Stage 7 label , 1968's "No Sad Songs" offered up an odd mixture of previously released singles and a couple of new studio numbers.  In fact, seven of the eleven tracks had previously been released as 'A' or 'B' sides.  



- 1966's 'Teenager’s Prayer' b/w 'Long Hot Summer' (Sound Stage 7 catalog number  SS45-2564)

- 1966's 'My Special Prayer' b/w 'Travellng Man' (Sound Stage 7 catalog number 45-2577) 

- 1967's 'Put Your Trust In Me' b/w 'Just A Dream' (Sound Stage catalog number 45-2583

- 1967's 'Nine Pound Steel' b/w 'The Girl’s Alright With Me' (Sound Stage catalog number 45-2589

- 1967's 'No Sad Songs' b/w 'Come On & Get It' (Sound Stage catalog number 45-2602)


Two more tracks were released as a single concurrently with the LP:


- 1968''s '(You Keep Me) Hangin’ On' b/w 'Long Hot Summer' (Sound Stage catalog number 2608)


So that left three 'new' songs - 'I Worry About You', 'In The Same Old Way', and 'Can't Find No Happiness'.  The good news was that Simon's early work stood as some of his best material; most of it pre-dating his discovery of the country-soul genre that came to dominate much of his recording career,  I may be one of the few folks that feels that way, but so what ...


"No Sad Songs" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) (You Keep Me) Hangin' On   (Buddy Mize - Ira Allen) - 2:45

Simon made his name taking country material and giving it a soul twist.  'I Worry About You' was a perfect example of one of his early attempts in the genre.  Lots of folks loved the result, but it simply didn't do much for my ears.  The song itself was certainly okay, but produced John Richbourgh's decision to bury Simon in sappy orchestration and a cooing female backing chorus simply served to make a decent song vapid.   rating: ** stars

2.) My Special Prayer   (Wini Scott) - 2:43

I'm not sure why, but every time I hear 'My Special Prayer' I think about B.W. Stevenson's 'My Maria'.  The songs don't sound even remotely similar, but there's some connection in my fading brain.  Anyhow, this was one of the prettiest performances on the collection.   rating: *** stars   

3.) Long Hot Summer   (Allen Orange) - 2:18

As mentioned above, 'Long Hot Summer' was an odd choice for inclusion on the album.  It had previously been released as a single, serving as Simon's debut on Richbourg's Sound Stage 7 label.   That gave the song a very different feel - a great up tempo rocker with a very mid-1960s Motown feel.  Not sure who provided the guitar, but it was wonderful.  Shame Simon didn't continue recording in this vein.  Gets my vote for the album's standout performance.   rating: ***** stars

4,) No Sad Songs   (Darryl Carter) - 2:18

The title track was another up tempo number with a truly memorable melody.  The interesting thing about this one was Simon's performance sounded like he'd borrowed a page out of the late Sam Cooke's performance manual.   Easy to see why Sounds Stage 7 had previously tapped it as a single.   rating: ***** stars

5.) I Worry About You  (Norman Napp) - 2:50

'I Worry About You' was a slow, R&B-ish number that came a bit too close to the MOR edge to be truly enjoyable.   rating: ** stars


(side 2)

1.) Nine Pound Steel   (Dan Penn - Wayne Carson Thompson) - 2:45

Written by Dan Penn and Wayne Carson Thompson, 'Nine Pound Steel' was a classic slice of old school soul that would have given Solomon Burke, or James Carr a run for their money.   In fact, the song actually bore a slight resemblance to Carr's 'Dark End of the Street' (which happened to have been written by Penn and Chips Moman who engineered and arranged the material on this album).   rating: ***** stars

2.) Put Your Trust In Me (Depend On Me)   (Joe Simon) - 1:58

I've always thought that Simon was better on up tempo material.  His voice was better suited to faster material and he actually seemed to show more enthusiasm for the up tempo numbers.  Prime example was the Simon original 'Put Your Trust In Me (Depend On Me)'.  Another standout performance.   rating; **** stars

3.) Traveling Man   (Joe Simon) - 1:52

'Traveling Man' had the makings of a great number, but ultimately sounded like little more than a throwaway track.  Amazing how many cities Simon managed to name check in under two minutes ...   rating; *** stars

4.) In The Same Old Way   (D. Pennington - Lindon Oldham) - 2:27

'In The Same Old Way' was a slow, bluesy ballad that sounded a bit like Simon trying to channel Otsi Redding.  Love the Steve Cropper-ish guitar and the horn charts were too-kill-for.   rating; **** stars

5.) Can't Find No Happiness   (Charles Chalmers - Paul Selph Jr.) - 2:35

Kicked along by a nice organ and horns arrangement ,the bluesy ballad  'Can't Find No Happiness' has always reminded me of a Solomon Burke number.  That's meant as a compliment !   rating; **** stars   

6.) Come On & Get It   (Allen Orange - Joe Simon - Bob Wilson) - 2:15

Another track with a distinctive  'retro' feel to it, 'Come On & Get It' had previously seen the light of day as a 1967 'B' side.  Shame, since it was a great slice of mid-1960s soul and would have actually been a better choice as an 'A' side.  The song had an instantly memorable Funky groove with Simon turning in a mesmerizing vocal that almost sounded like someone else.   rating; ***** stars


Even though it wasn't a true studio set, this is easily one of Simon's most impressive efforts.  Look for this one, rather than one of the throwaway sets on Spring.





Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Drowning In the Sea of Love

Company: Spring

Catalog: SPR 5702

Year: 1972

Country/State: Simmesport, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1252

Price: $15.00



1972's "Drowning In the Sea Of Love" marked Joe Simon's seventh studio set in six years.  Quite an impressive track record.   Produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the album was recorded in Philadelphia's Sigma Studios with what would become the cream of Philly International's sessions players.  Musically this set wasn't a major change in Simon's career, but surrounded by strong material, including five Gamble and Huff originals, the end result was one of Simon's most impressive and enjoyable releases.   One thing that's always left me a bit confused were reviews that pointed to the album's country edge.   Frankly, I don't hear it.   To my ears the set showcased a mixture of love man ballads ('Glad To Be Your Lover'), old school soul ('Ole Night Owl') and Philly International-styled social commentary ('I Found My Dad').  Country and country-soul ?   Yes, that was the case of many of the early albums, but this time around ... beats me.  Anyhow, the good news was that Simon was in prime form, keeping his occasional nasally twangs at bay throughout the set.   Surrounded by sympathetic producers and first rate material there simply wasn't a bad song on the album. Even his glacial paced remake of The Stylistics 'You Are Everything' was worth hearing.    By my count, seven out of ten tunes were "best of" material.  Impressive batting average for anyone.


"Drowning In the Sea of Love" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Drowning In the Sea of Law   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 3:22

One of Simon's best performances, the title track sounded like a mash-up of Albert King and a Norman Whitfield-styled Temptations tune.  Naturally I'm a big fan of both.  Always loved the groove on this one; the snarling lead guitar, Ronald Baker's' killer bass line, and the magnificent backing vocals ("one time, two times, drowning in the sea of love ...".  Classic slice of old-school soul that should be in every collector's musical stash.   The song was tapped as the lead-off single.  rating: ***** stars

2.) Glad To Be Your Lover   (Bunny Sigler - Phil Hurtt) - 2:56

Powered by Simon's smoky voice, 'Glad To Be Your Lover' had a nice Stax-R&B flavor and a highly catchy refrain.. Interestingly, co-writer Bunny Sigler had also recorded the song, though his version was given a far funkier arrangement, sounding totally unlike this superior cover.  The song also used as the 'B' side for the 'Pool of Bad Luck' 45 though it was good enough to have been an 'A' side.  rating: **** stars

3.) Something You Can Do Today   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 4:16

Simon was known for his slow jams and they seldom were more impressive than the Gospel-tinged 'Something You Can Do Today'.  Loved his low register growl on this one.    rating: *** stars

4.) I Found My Dad   (Bunny Sigler - Phil Hurtt) - 2:48

Like me, Gamble and Huff were seemingly suckers for socially relevant lyrics ...    sure, lots of times the results were sheer cheese, but  'I Found My Dad' was one of the exceptions.  Encased in a wonderful melody (loved the congas, and showcasing some of Simon's grittiest vocals, this one was a treasure.  Interestingly the 45 version sported  a different mix.   rating: *** * stars

5.) The Mirror Won't Lie   (Bunny Sigler - Phil Hurtt) - 4:31

Always loved the blazing wah wah guitar on this ballad ...  Think it's Norman Harris, but I'm not sure.  Whoever it was, they sounded like Motown's Dennis Coffey.  rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) Ole Night Owl   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 2:37

One of those breezy, radio friendly tunes that Gamble and Huff seemingly managed to toss out without breaking a sweat.   In spite of the over-the-top orchestration, this was one of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars

2.) You Are Everything    (Linda Creed - Thom Bell) - 4:13

The Stylistics cut the classic version which every other cover has to be compared against.   Simon's version slowed the tune down to a crawl; largely losing the sparkling melody, and in the process managed to make it dull.    The album's first misstep.   rating: *** stars

3.) If   (Bunny Sigler - Phil Hurtt) - 3:21

One of three Sigler-Hurtt compositions, 'If' was the best of the lot.   With a catchy melody and another socially relevant set of lyrics this one would have sounded right at home with the likes of The O'Jays 'Back Stabbers'.    rating: **** stars

4.) Let Me Be the One (The One Who Loves You)  (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 3:00

'Let Me Be the One (The One Who Loves You)' was a bouncy mid-tempo ballad that drilled into your head and wouldn't leave.  The song was also released as the flip side on the 'Drowning In the Sea of Love' 45.    rating: **** stars

5.) Pool of Bad Luck   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 4:50

What a great song title - even if the rest of the song were to suck (and it didn't), with a title like 'Pool of Bad Luck' how could you go wrong ?   A perfect vehicle for Simon's instantly recognizable voice. The tune also served as the album's second single.   rating: **** stars


There were three singles on the LP:



- 1971's 'Downing In the Sea of Love' b/w 'Let Me Be The One' (Spring catalog number SPR 120)  # 11 pop; # 3 R&B

- 1972's 'Pool of Bad Cluck' b/w 'Glad To Be Your Lover' (Spring catalog number SPR 124) # 42 pop; # 13 R&B

- 1972's 'I Found My Dad' b/w '' (catalog number SPR 130) # 78 pop; # 15 R&B  


Powered by the singles, the parent album hit # 71 on the US album charts.






Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Chokin' Kind

Company: Sound Stage 7

Catalog: STA 15006

Year: 1969

Country/State: Simmesport, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5453

Price: $15.00




"The Chokin' Kind" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) baby, Don't Be Looking In My Mind   (Harlan Howard) - 

2.) (Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay  (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper) - 

3.) Little Green Apples   (Bobby Russell) -

4.) Lonely Man   (Delmar Donnell) - 

5.) The Chokin' Kind   (Harlan Howard) - 


(side 2)

1.) Yours Love   (Harlan Howard) - 

2.) Help Yourself (To All My Lovin')   (S. English - J. Ross - M. Barkan) - 

3.) Witcha Lineman   (Jimmy Webb) - 

4.) Don't Let Me Lose the feeling   (Allen Orange) - 

5.) I'm Too Far Gone To Turn Around   (Clyde Otis - Belford Hendricks) - 

6.) In the Still of the Night (I'll Remember)   (Fred Parris) - 


There's something about Joe Simon's rich, burnished voice that sounds as smooth as a glass of 12-year-old bourbon, and feels just as appropriate on a sad and lonely day. In some respects, Joe Simon could be called Roy Orbison of soul music — there's a naturally sorrowful tone in Simon's voice that shines clearly through even the most upbeat material, and both singers had obviously learned more than a little from the sounds of classic country. The Chokin' Kind, the first of three albums Joe Simon would crank out in 1969, features three tunes written by the great C&W tunesmith Harlan Howard, and all three (especially the title cut) serve as superb examples of the clear if little-examined kinship between soul and country, inspiring truly stellar performances from Simon. Much of the rest of the album is padded out with covers, and while one might imagine it would take a brave man to cover Otis Redding, Glen Campbell and The Five Satins on the same LP, Simon brings his own style and personality to each song, no matter how familiar they may be in other contexts. Like many soul long-players of the 1960's, The Chokin' Kind is more a collection of songs that a unified work, but the consistent strength of Simon's performances makes it fine listening from start to finish.

Waylon Jennings overheard songwriter Harlan Howard strumming the guitar as he composed "The Chokin' Kind" and requested to record it. The song idea came from Howard's marriage and subsequent divorce from a woman who was too "uptown" for him. The songwriter later offered the song to Ray Charles who'd had huge hits covering country songs. But it would be Simmsport, LA, native Joe Simon who would have the biggest hit with the song. Recording for Sound Stage 7 Records, a subsidiary of Nashville-based Monument Records, the singer was working with producer/manager John Richbourg aka John R. of Nashville radio station WLAC, an AM powerhouse that at night could be heard in most parts of the country.

Recording at Music City Recorders with guitarists Mac Grayden (who co-write and co-produced Robert Knight's "Everlasting Love") and Troy Seals, bassist Tim Drummond, drummer Ken Buttrey, and pianist Bob Wilson, Simon and Richbourg laid down the tracks that would break the singer into the big time. Included on The Chokin' Kind LP, the title track single went gold, holding down the R&B top spot for three weeks and peaking at number 13 pop in the spring of 1969. Its follow-up was another Howard song, "Baby Don't Be Looking In My Mind," number 16 R&B, number 72 pop, summer 1969. The singer recorded another Howard song, "Yours Love," number ten R&B, number 78 pop, summer 1970.


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Sounds of Joe Simon

Company: Spring

Catalog: SPR-4701

Year: 1971

Country/State: Simmesport, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: minor edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4513

Price: $15.00

Cost: $66.00


Co-produced by John Richbourg and Joe Simon, 1971's "The Sounds of Simon" isn't a major musical surprise.  If you like Simon's deep and rugged old school voice, then you'll enjoy the album's mixture of originals and covers.  With the exception of the horn propelled 'I Love You More (Than Anything)' my problem with the set it that stretched over two sides the heavy emphasis on ballads and mid-tempo numbers starts to give the set a sound-alike feel.  Witht You're left to wish that Simon would break it up a little and perhaps try a couple of funkier numbers.  Personal favorite - the sultry 'Georgia Blue'.  It would have made a killer single.  Solid, if not a real knock out ...


The album spun of several singles:


- 'Help Me Make It Through the Night' b/w 'Too Lady Down Beside You' (Spring catalog SPR-113)

- 'All My Hard Times' b/w 'Georgia Blue' (Spring catalog number SPR-118)


"The Sounds of Joe Simon" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) To Lay Down Beside You   (Tim Drummond) - 3:15

2.) I Can't See Nobody   (Robin Gibb - Barry Gibb) - 4:15

3.) Most of All   (Buddie Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:40

4.) No More Me   (Cecil Doty) - 2:29

5.) You're Time To Cry   (Joe Simon - Raeford Gerald - Dock Price Jr.) - 2:57


(side 2)

1.) Help Me Make It Through the Night   (Kris Kristofferson) - 2:40

2.) My Woman, My Woman, My Wife    (Marty Robbins) - 4:34

3.) I Love You More (Than Anything)    (Joe Simon - Raeford Gerald - Dock Price Jr.) - 2:05

4.) Georgia Blue   (Larry Neal) - 2:52

5.) All My Hard Times   (Joe South) - 2:38  

Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Mood, Heart and Soul

Company: Spring

Catalog: SPR 6702

Year: 1974

Country/State: Simmesport, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1418

Price: $20.00



Risqué cover there Mr. Simon ...  By my count 1974's "Mood, Heart and Soul" was Joe Simon's  tenth studio set in eight years.  Continuing his collaboration with long-time producer Brad Shapiro, as good as Simon's voice was, by the time this one was released his catalog was beginning to sound ...  well, a little bit tired.   Now take those criticisms in stride.  Simon's voice and phrasing remained impeccable and instantly recognizable.   When he was presented with top-notch material such as ;Cover the Same Old Ground' and 'Come Back Home' he could sing circles around the competition.  Simon was also capable of throwing in an occasional curve ball.  Who would have expected his cover of the Dan O'Keefe hit 'Good Time Charley's Got the Blues' to be so engaging?  Unfortunately, those successes were the exceptions, with about two thirds of the set featuring a professional, if unmemorable mixture of heavily orchestrated ballads and mid-tempo numbers.   


"Mood, Heart, and Soul" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye)  (Jim Weatherly) - 6:00

While I've always enjoyed the cheesy synthesizer washes, coupled with the xylophone touches, Simon's cover of this heartbreaker simply couldn't compete with the Gladys Knight and the Pips hit.   His version  wasn't bad, showcasing that instantly recognizable voice, but just didn't bring anything to the table.   rating: *** stars

2.) I Would Still Be There   (Phillip Mitchell - Billy Clements) - 3:13

The opening fuzz and acoustic guitar backing was nice with Simon kicking in one of his patented country-soul vocals.   A bit heavy in the orchestration department, but one of the album's nicer melodies.  rating: *** stars

3.) Good Time Charley's Got the Blues   (Jerry Chestnut) - 3:03

Dan O'Keefe had the hit (the original title was 'Good Time Charlie's Go the Blues'), though the tune was covered by a slew of others, including Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and B.J. Thomas.   With so much competition, I'll readily admit my expectations for this one were minimal.  The tune just didn't seem to be the kind of song that fit Simon's style.   Okay, I was dead wrong.  Simon's low-keyed, breezy arrangement was simply a joy to hear.  One of the album highlights.  rating: **** stars

4.) Cover the Same Old Ground   (George Jackson - Ray Moore - James Dotson) - 3:25

Typically anything George Jackson and Ray Moore wrote was going to be enjoyable and in this case 'Cover the Same Old Ground' served as the album's best old-school soul tune.  This was simply the kind of heartbreak song that Simon was meant to sing.   rating: **** stars

5.) Walking Down Lonely Street   (K. Sterling - Joe Simon - Aseneth Peek) - 4:30

Even though it started out sounding like part of the soundtrack for a forgotten Blaxlpoitation flick, 'Walking Down Lonely Street ' turned into one of the album's better mid-tempo ballads.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) The Best Time of My Life   (K. Sterling - Joe Simon - Aseneth Peek) - 2:48  

It wasn't the most original tune you've ever heard, but with a sweet Caribbean lilt and some punchy horn charts, it was easy to figure out 'Spring Records tapped 'The Best Time of My Life' as the  second single:



- 1974's 'The Best Time of My Life' b/w 'What We Gonna Do Now' (Spring catalog number SPR 149)  rating: *** stars

2.) What We Gonna Do Now   (Phillip Mitchell) - 3:05

Showcasing Simon's powerful voice, 'What We Gonne Do Now' was easily the album's standout ballad and probably should have been one of the singles.  rating: **** stars

3.) I'm In the Mood for You   (Richard Parker) - 2:51

'I'm In the Mood for You' has always reminded me of a Solomon Burke-styled ballad; the same kind of gospel-feel that made Burke such a special singer.   rating: *** stars

4.) Carry Me   (Phillip Mitchell - E. Shelby) - 3:40

The breezy ballad 'Carry Me' was probably the album's most commercial tune with some nice electric guitar and a wonderful title refrain.  Spring tapped this as the album's first single:



- 1974's 'Carry Me' b/w 'Do You Know What It's Like to Be Lonesome?' (Spring catalog number SPR 145)   rating: **** stars

5.) Come Back Home    (K. Sterling - Joe Simon - Aseneth Peek) - 3:15

One of three tunes co-written by Simon, 'Come Back Home' ended the album with Simon getting a bit funky and slinky ...   nice genre for him to operate in and one of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars