This rare and eagerly sought after 45 on Birmingham, AL’s Black Kat seems to have been Wes Lewis’ only release under his own name, but he was the keyboard player in the Alpaca Phase III whose "Love At First Sight" for Clintone is well worth looking out for. It’s Gonna Be Hard is a superior southern soul mid pacer, penned by the great Roscoe Robinson, with a powerful and highly charged Lewis vocal, and featuring some fine keyboard fills, and tasteful horn charts. But the other side is even better. Best Of My Years was written by those masters of deep soul songs, Frederick Knight and Sam Dees, and is a typically hard hitting ballad, with a lovely melody and some telling lyrics. Lewis gives a compelling performance, with some excellent timing and melismatic touches. And the big sounding orchestral arrangement and harmony vocals make a splendid backdrop for him.
Black Kat was part of Neal Hemphill’s collection of labels.
Note ~ Rabbit Factory Records have started a fine programme of reissues from his tapes. Volume 2 of their “Birmingham Sound” CDs includes “Best Of My Years” and the previously unissued version of the Impressions beautiful “I’m A Telling You” reworked southern style. Buy the CD – and Volume 1 while you’re at it.
Acknowledgements and thanks to John Ciba.