Chicago singer Roy Wright started his recording career for the legendary Drexel label, which was owned by Paul King and Les Caldwell. Drexel issued four singles by Wright, and although the jump blues “No Haps” is the famous track I’m much more partial to the slower sides like True Love and “You Promised” which have the lazy appeal of the best New Orleans R & B of the period, largely thanks to some very fine piano from Denni Tillman. Wright’s easy going tenor suited this sort of material perfectly.
In the 60s Wright worked for Al Benson whose labels Crash, Vick and Mica all had 45s on him – and all of them are worth detailed investigation. Most of the sides are really tough Chi Town music courtesy of music men like Bob Lee and Karl Tareton, with Wright fighting manfully against driving rhythms and big brass sections. His vocals were much more emphatic and gritty than in the 50s, as he embraced the newer soul style of singing. Thumping tracks like “Heartbreak (Awful Day)” and “Something’s Wrong” are very fine indeed, but I think that the heavy hitting “You Changed My Whole Life Around” is his best cut of the dancers, thanks to a great stop/go arrangement and a really wholehearted vocal performance.
But the flip is the side best suited to this page, and Alone is a suitably doom laden ballad for any deep soul enthusiast. The horn section is pretty well down in the mix and this allows us to really hear Wright’s excellent gospel influenced chops, accompanied by a gentle male chorus. You gotta love Wright’s sense of timing on this one – super. Note the involvement of Charles Farren as co-writer.
No haps / I’m lonely ~ DREXEL 912 (1957)
You promised / I’ve got it ~DREXEL 916 (1957)
True love / Who’ll volunteer ~ DREXEL 918 (1958)
I hope it lasts forever / I tried ~ DREXEL 919 (1958)
I'm going crazy / Once in awhile ~ SHARON 21762 (1962)
Heartbreak (awful day) / Something’s wrong ~ CRASH 427 (1966/7)
Hook line and sinker ~ MICA 2016 (1967?) (flip by JIMMY ROBBINS)
You changed my whole life around / Alone ~ VICK (1967?)
Thanks to Bob McGrath for the info on the Sharon 45.