Bobby Foster’s first records were cut under the direction of Ike Turner when he was based in St Louis in the late 50s for Bill Stevens' eponymous Stevens label. Although Turner’s time with them is perhaps most famous for his “Icky Renrut” disguise he produced product on several other artists of whom I’d say Bobby Foster was the most talented singer. In my view his high tenor voice and thrilling falsetto were heard to best effect on the slow doo-wop ballad “Angel Of Love” although the rock n roll freaks go for the rockabilly styled “Star Of Love” for Turner’s unmistakeable wild “slash and burn” guitar solo.
I would place Foster’s superb - and rare - Rahall 45 as his next release after the Stevens sessions. “True Love” is a strong upbeat number on which he sounds like Ted Taylor thanks to his concentration on his falsetto range, but the flip is the one to go for. Soothe Me Baby has nothing to do with The Sims Twins but is a classically formed deep soul number, complete with a screaming vocal, good horn support and an arpeggio guitar. Love the way it ebbs and flows.
By the mid 60s Foster was in Memphis cutting at Sam Phillips' studio. Both the Souncot and Select-O-Hit 45s come from these sessions. Foster is relatively restrained here, concentrating mostly on his tenor range, but still capable of generating considerable emotional effects with a more sparing use of his stratospheric falsetto. All four cuts are fine southern soul, with This Time I’m Really Leaving, a really nice country soul slowie, my personal choice.
Foster’s final sessions were again held in Memphis and the results leased out to John R. The dancers have a fondness for the thumping “If You Really Need A Friend” but my taste is much more towards the better melody of Building Up (For A Let Down), another fine piece of country soul. Foster’s gentle, rather breathy delivery was very suited to this sort of material.
As LITTLE BOBBY FOSTER
I woke up this morning / Shirley can’t you see ~ STEVENS 102 (1959)
As BOBBY FOSTER
Angel of love/ Star above ~ STEVENS 106 (1959)
Soothe me baby / True love ~ RAHALL 1000 (mid 60s)
Im so glad / Where do you go ~ SELECT-O-HIT 007
Get your love where you find it / This time I’m really leaving ~ SOUNCOT 1125
Building up (for a let down) / If you really need a friend (call on me) ~ SOUND PLUS 2101 (1972)
Note ~ You can find all of Foster's Stevens tracks on the UK Sequel CD "East St Louis The Stevens Sessions", which also includes a couple of unissued tracks "I do love you" and "You're the only one".
Special thanks to my great friend Michel.