Band members Related acts
line up 1 ()
- Roy Head (RIP 2020) -- vocals
supporting musicians (1972)
- David Beaver -- backing vocals
- Paul Cannon -- guitar
- Rennie Crook -- backing vocals
- Steve Cropper -- guitar
- Gary Johns -- backing vocals, percussion
- Jimm Johnson -- bass
- David Mayo -- backing vocals
- Dee McMinn -- backing vocals
- Richie Simpson -- drums
- J.A. Spell -- keyboards
- Pat Taylor -- backing vocals
- Tony Joe White -- guitar
- The Traits
Genre: blue-eyed soul
Title: Dismal Prisoner
Country/State: Three Rivers, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: --
Roy Head's fourth studio album in seven years. Roy Head's ninth label in eight years. You don't need to be a marketing expert to see a pattern here. Which is a shame given the late Roy Head was a truly talented blue-eyed soulster. Signed by Bob Tanner's Memphis-based TMI label, 1972's "Dismal Prisoner" teamed Head with Steve Cropper in the production role. From an artistic standpoint it made for a great collaboration. Cropper had a natural understanding of Head's strengths and brought in a slew of Stax associates to provide material and musical backing. Exemplified by Stax-tinged material like 'Getting Too Big for Your Britches', 'I've Got the Power' and the title track the results provided a near perfect setting for Head's wonderful blue-eyed soul voice. Anyone into the likes of Delbert McClinton, The Cate Brothers, or the late Tony Joe White was going to find a lot to like here. Curiously, while I'm not a big blues fan, two of the album's highlights came in the form of his bluesier performances - a slithering cover of James Lee Hooker's 'Crawlin' Kingsnake' and the Head original and politically incorrectly titled 'Smell a Woman.' The latter was interesting to hear for the way Head "flattened" his vocals - kind of a Ian Hunter vibe on the delivery. The album's weirdest performance provided another highlight. Built on a stereotyped native American rhythm and espousing a pro-Indian plotline, 'Chickamaugua' may not have passed today's PC filters, but it was one cool song.
For some reason TNT didn't bother to float any singles and sadly lacked the marketing muscle to really promote the album. The LP quickly vanished and within a couple of years Head was recording for ABC Records. Not that I have a marketing degree, but I suspect Ronnie Stoots album cover design probably didn't spur sales.
Prisoner" track listing:
1.) I've Got the Power (Van Morrison) - 5:25 rating: **** stars
I've always been surprised at how well Head's southern growl meshed up with a Van Morrison song like 'I've Got the Power.' Backed by some punchy Stax-styled horns, Head's enthusiastic performance actually reminded me a touch of prime Delbert McClinton. Everytime I hear this one I just picture a big Cheshire cat sneering - "my, my, my ...". Would love to have seen this one in a live setting.
2.) Getting Too Big for Your Britches (Mack Rice) - 3:46 rating: **** stars
Written by the criminally overlooked Mack Rice and previously covered by The Staples Singers, Head turned in admirable cover of 'Getting Too Big for Your Britches.' Again powered by some tasty Stax-styled horns and a sneering vocal, just imagine what Hear could have done signed to Stax. (Be sure to check out The Staples version which featured Pops Staples and some stellar guitar.)
3.) Why Don't We Go Somewhere and Love (Kenny O'Dell - Larry Henley) - 3:08 rating: *** stars
Pretty soul ballad with some nice J.A. Spell Hammond B-3 ... Head brought out a little more "country" in his delivery on this one.
4.) Dismal Prisoner 0613 (Tony Joe White) - 4:48 rating: **** stars
I remember the first time I head the title track and thinking that it sounded a lot like something out of the Tony Joe White catalog. Lo and behold, White wrote it and guested on guitar. Awesome slice of "swamp rock." How did I overlook White's guitar chops?
1.) Don't Bury Me In the Rain (Steve Cropper - Mack Rice) - 3:55 rating: **** stars
The first of two Cropper compositions (his guitar work is instantly recognizable), Head's performance on the rocking 'Don't Bury Me In the Rain' was another performance that reminded me of Delbert McClinton. Kind of a Texas rockin' edge to this one. Only thing I didn't like on this one was the backing chorus. Head didn't need their help.
2.) Crawlin' Kingsnake (John Lee Hooker) - 4:28 rating: **** stars
Shame that today most folks know this tune as a result of The Black Keys cover - for crying sakes, today most music fans don't even know it's a cover. And as much as I like Dan Auerbach and company's version, it doesn't have anything on Head's slinky cover, which in turn has nothing on the John Lee Hooker original.
3.) Smell a Woman (Roy Head - Steve Cropper - Paul Cannon) - 3:34 rating: **** stars
The album's lone original offered up another blues number. Cool hearing Head "flatten" his voice on this one.
4.) Chickamaugua (Steve Cropper - Mary Williams - David Mayo) - 4:10 rating: **** stars
Built on a strereotyped Indian rhythm, it may have espoused a pro-native American plotline, but I suspect there's no way 'Chickamaugua' would pass today's politically correct screens. That said, it's a fascinating timepiece. East to imagine this one on a id-'70s Redbone album.
5.) Rock and Roll Mood (Ken Loggins - Michael O'Martian) - 3:16 rating: ** stars
Yes, it was written Kenny Loggins and originally recorded by Loggins and Messina. Can't say I liked the original and while Head's soulful cover was notionally better, it couldn't save what wasn't a great song to start. The album's first and only real disappointment.
Title: The Many Sides of Roy Head
Country/State: Three Rivers, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: white label promo copy; promo stamp on cover
Catalog ID: 3182
To be fair, while his career may have tanked, by the late'1970s Roy Head's voice remained in good shape. The real problem was that he'd turned his attention to country.
"" track listing:
1.) Treat Her Right
Anytime an artist decides to do an updated remake of their greatest hits, you know they're in trouble. And that's certainly the case here. As good as the original was, Head's updated, country-tinged remake wasn't. Shame he didn't leave this one alone.
2.) All Night Long Is Gone
3.) It's Time for You To Go
4.) I've Got That Lookin' Feelin;
5.) The Sun's Comin' Up On My Cheatin' Ways Again
1.) Drinkin' Them Long Necks
2.) Burn Me Again
3.) Just Before Goodbye
4.) I've Never Gone To Bed with an Ugly Woman
5.) Come To Me Memories
Later releases by Head on Dunhill and Elektra contained elements of rockabilly and psychedelic rock, but by the mid-1970s his solo career had led him to country. He signed first with Mega Records and then with Shannon Records and later on with ABC Records and Elektra Records. After releasing the 1970 cult classic "Same People That You Meet Going Up You Meet Coming Down" on Dunhill Records, Head's music reached the U.S. country music Top 100 24 times by the mid-1980s, while landing three Top 20 hits: "The Most Wanted Woman in Town", (1975) "Come To Me" and "Now You See Em, Now You Don't" both in 1977 and recorded on the ABC/Dot label reaching No. 16 and No. 19, respectively.
Even the earliest blues-laced, rockabilly-styled recordings of The Traits, primarily written in a collaboration between Bolton, Buie, Gibson and Head, have demonstrated lasting power with "One More Time", "Live It Up" and "Summertime Love" making periodic surges into the Top 100 in various parts of Europe. Joe "King" Carrasco had a hit covering The Traits "One More Time" and releasing it on Hannibal Records and Stiff Records (UK) in 1981-1982. Two Tons of Steel covered "One More Time" again on both CD and DVD in 2000, Palo Duro Records entitled Two Tons of Steel – Live at Gruene Hall. Discographies reveal that much of the music originally written, composed and recorded by the Traits at TNT and Renner Records between 1958 and 1962, has been re-released over the past four decades numerous times by as many as 20 different record labels both in the U.S. and abroad.
BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION