Joe Haywood was a drummer/vocalist from Spartanburg, SC who made his career inthe music business in New York where he worked mainly with Larry Lucie's band. Writer/arranger/producer Lucie and Bobby Robinson between them created all of Joe's recordings, and although he is best known as the originator of Percy Sledge’s smash hit “Warm And Tender Love” (which you can hear here), he made a series of other marvelous and enduring deep soul tracks.
Like so many singers of his generation Joe was influenced by Sam Cooke, but his high flexible baritone voaclas had their own feel and tone. Check out the way he soars around the melody on Hand In Hand or "Let's Walk Together" with it's complex and tasteful horn arrangement. Although there has been considerable confusion over the recording location of some of his tracks due to the bewildering variety of the labels his 45s appeared on, it's a pound to a penny that most if not all were cut in the Big Apple. Robinson had very good New Orleans connections, particularly with Marshall Seahorn, and the White Cliffs and Deesu 45s were undoubtedly the result of a leasing deal - as was the Kent release.
Haywood cut so many fine sides it’s hard to pick out just a few but if you want to find an example of a classic New York deep track, look no further than the sensational Strong Feeling - one of Joe's very best performances on top of some outstanding playing by Cornell Dupree, Pretty Purdie et al. "Southern" soul at its very best. Bobby Robinson's 45 label describes this as "The Sound Of Earthy Soul" and you wouldn't argue with that. He goes on to say "This record spotlites Joe Haywood in a strong soulful rendition of a Touching New Song". Sounds just about right as well.
And if that was arguably the pinnacle of his recordings, there are other contenders which might just get into the frame. Like the gentle I Wanna Love You a fine ballad vehicle for Joe’s demonstrative and soulful tones. Good to see another New York stalwart Kenny Ballard getting a writer credit. Or the slow burner In Your Heart You Know I Love You which starts as a whisper and grows into a storm, full of lovely gospel flourishes. Another superb vocal performance from Joe came on the excellent Say You Will, which features some lovely careful guitar picking and tasteful organ.
By the end of the 60s Joe’s impassioned style of singing was getting out of fashion, and the sort of southern arrangements that he sounded so comfortable in were also becoming passé. Joe returned to the Carolinas and got a job as a cab driver and sadly passed on in 1996. But his music lives on and will continue to do so.
Warm and tender love / I would if I could ~ ENJOY 2013 (1965) / WHITE CLIFFS 237 (1966)
Talk to me baby (put some sugar in my ear) / When you look in the mirror (you're looking at the one I love) ~ ENJOY 2016 (1965)
Lets walk together / I would if I could ~ RAMPAGE 1001 (1965/6)
I love you yes I do / It takes the dark to make you see the light ~ RAMPAGE 1002 (1965/6)
Lets make it / Hand in hand ~ WHITE CLIFFS 248 (1967)
Say you will / Sadie Mae ~ DEESU 313 (1967)
I'm walking / Strong feeling ~ FRONT PAGE 1000 (1967/8)
I cross my heart / In your heart you know I love you ~ FRONT PAGE 1003 (1967/8)
I wanna love you / (Play me) a cornbread song ~ DEESU 316 (1967) / KENT 490 (1968)
Debt of love / Ghost of love ~ FURY 5052 (1968)
1. "I wanna love you" can be found on the Ace UK CD "Pounds Of Soul", "(Play Me) A Cornbread Song" on the same companies "Might Superfunk" CD, "Warm and tender love" on their "Sue Records Story Vol 4" CD. Two previously unissued tracks have also appeared on Ace UK CDs, the gorgeous deep "The Last One To Know" on " "Slow'n'Moody, Black & Bluesy" and "Let me whisper in your ear" on "For Connoisseurs Only Vol 2". "Say You Will" can be found on the Grapevine 2000 CD "Confessing".
2. “When You Look In The Mirror” was also recorded by Eddie Jefferson on Goldwax and Lots-A-Poppa on Jetstream.
3. You can read more about Joe Haywood in Red Kelly's always excellent Soul Detective website here.
Thanks to Naoya Yamauchi for a correction.