James Lynn Marsh
Dallas vocalist James Lynn Marsh is pretty well known to the R & B dancers as there are two or three tracks that apparently go down well on that “scene”. And because practically all his 45s are rare, obscure and in demand prices of them are very high and as a consequence his fine ballad performances seem to have been completely overlooked.
Dating Marsh’s releases isn’t so easy but I suspect that his first one is the Rainbow 45 which really is scarce. The tough “I Made A Mistake” is a pretty good uptempo number despite the “cha cha cha” breaks in the middle but the downbeat I’ll Keep Loving You is much more to my taste. There is a nice “late nite” feel about the track, accentuated by the mournful horns, which I really like. Marsh is suitably sombre, despite the upbeat message of the lyric, with a lovely gritty tone, full of gospel flourishes.
By 1964, the date handwritten on my copy of his first Gay Shel 45, Marsh was working with the key R & B figure in Dallas, Willie “Big Bo” Thomas. It seems certain that James was fronting Thomas’ band the Arrows in the clubs the Bandleader owned, and of course it is no surprise to see their name on all his releases for Thomas’ own label. The better side of his first release is a cracking version of Johnny Adam’s enduring blues ballad I Won’t Cry – just check out his powerful gruff roar as the song nears its run out groove.
His second 45 for Gay Shel has what is probably his best dancer on it, the rip roaring “Searching For My Baby” which feature some supercharged horns on top of a thumping southern soul beat. Unless you are a supporter of Liverpool FC I’d suggest you stay away from the flip “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Marsh’s final Big Bo release was perhaps the pick of the bunch. I like the James Brown funky styled dancer “Do What You Want To” but the superb deep soul ballad Did You Miss Me is the cut for me. Such a fine vocal performance – the way he soars all over the melody is just lovely – as is the arrangement by Ray Boston, the Arrows guitarist Fred Lowery and Marsh himself.
Shortly afterwards Boston and Marsh formed the B & M label, and shared the only release on it that I’m aware of. And while “The Question” is a pleasant ballad, sadly it lacks the fire of his previous work.
I made a mistake / I’ll keep loving you ~ RAINBOW 153 (early 60s?)
I won’t cry / Any more ~ GAY SHELL 1004 (1964)
Searching for my baby / You’ll never walk alone ~ GAY SHEL 402 (mid 60s)
Do what you want to / Do you miss me ~ GAY SHEL 7968 (1968?)
The question / Chitterling burger ~ B & M 3232 (late 60s?) Note ~ Flip by RAY BOSTON)