Unusually for this website here is a singer who recorded in the south – at Fame no less- but whose best cuts came later in the Windy City. Margie Alexander was one of the most intense of the female singers recording in the 70s with a series of searingly powerful deep soul tracks that were the equal of anything else released during this period. The tragedy for Margie was that the opposition was so strong – sadly she never got that really big break that her talent so richly deserved.
Marjorie Lucille Alexander was born in Carrolton, GA on 11 October 1948 and found her musical start singing in local churches and gospel choirs. By the middle of the 1960s she was in Los Angeles as a member of the Gospel Crusaders. On returning to Georgia she was noticed by Clarence Carter and joined his band as a back-up vocalist. And it was Carter who organized her first recording date. Can I Be Your Main Thing was a bluesy ballad with a brooding feel to it, heightened by some lovely electronic piano fills from the great Clayton Ivey, on which Margie gives her pleading heart full rein. Lovely breathy tone as well especially on the second verse. A true deep classic.
She moved to Carter’s own Future Stars label for another stone soul classic Keep On Searching which was also cut at Fame. This highly melodic deep soul peach benefitted from some wonderful chord changes and the usual outstanding horns. The beat ballad flip “Love Slave” was nicely judged too.
By the later 70s Margie was in Chicago cutting more superb tracks. I’m not sure that the message of It’s Worth A Whippin’ is quite what I want to hear, violence towards women not being my particular thing, but there’s no denying the power of the song nor the sense of defiance in Margie’s tortured vocal. A real powerhouse performance in every sense of the word. If that was good What’cha Tryin’ To Do To Me was possibly even better. A quite superb piece of music with a full orchestra desperately trying to match her fierce, soulfully anguished voice. One to treasure – and to keep coming back to. Almost too stirring a track to press “repeat” for – emotional overload. Maybe even the peak of her popular singing career.
Margie’s final secular release was the delicate ballad Blue Vibrations on which her rather “Esther Phillips” tone was beautifully showcased accompanied by some lovely Memphis guitars and keyboards. A lovely 80s sound. Since then she’s moved back to the gospel world releasing a CD entitled “God Is In Control” for Atlanta based Soul Potion in 1992.
UPDATE ~ Eric LeBlanc writes with the grim news of Margie's passing. She died March 26, 2013. I'm grateful to - but saddened by - Eric. His book with Bob Eagle "Blues : A Regional Experience" is now published. A must have volume for sure.
Can I be your main thing / It can't last forever ~ ATLANTIC 2828 (1971)
Love slave / Keep on searching ~ FUTURE STARS 1005 (1974)
Take my body / It's worth a whippin' ~ CHI SOUND 17605 (1976)
Gotta get a hold on me / What'cha trying to do to me ~ CHI SOUND 1033 (1977)
Looking back / Blue vibrations ~ STARTOWN 005 (1984)
Note ~ “Love Slave” can (for some reason) be found on the Stax UK CD “Stax Sirens and Volt Vamps”. “Can I Be Your Main thing” can be found on the Rhino/Westside CD “Atlantic Soul Sisters”. “What’cha Tryin’ To Do To Me” can be found on the Westside UK CD “What More Can A Woman Do”.