All of Sam’s three New York 45s were produced by the great Johnny Brantley. Indy producer Brantley is a cult figure because of his early employment of Jimi Hendrix. My views on this guitarist are widely known and don’t need repeating here – but if you listen to Johnny’s other productions you can understand why he is so highly regarded.
Williams’ little known Music World 45 may have been the first release and is easily the weakest of the three. “You Tempt me” is only ordinary uptempo fare – rescued from by Sam’s great singing. Plenty of those higher register moments that set the pulse racing. I Can’t Stand The Pain is a beat ballad with a doo-wop chord structure. The harmony voices are great – and it goes without saying that Sam is excellent but the song and the arrangement simply aren’t up to the standard of his other material. The producers are Brantley and George Goldner.
The Uptown 45 is a considerable improvement. “So Called Friend” is a pretty fair mid tempo tune with Sam in good voice - super baritone sax and trumpet support. Nice key modulation as well. But better to stick with Miracle Worker which is a wonderful deep soul effort full of fire and emotion. Williams’ screams and falsetto excursions are really exciting – what a marvellous vocalist he was.
Let’s Talk It Over is his masterpiece. A screaming, Pickett like, performance of great power in a setting of rhythm and horns. The fact that this splendid song is on the other side of a very expensive Northern track has sadly prevented it being recognised for the classic it is. To be fair “Love Slipped Through My Fingers” is a cut above the usual Northern tracks thanks to Sam’s almost demented screaming vocal rising over the crowded backing instrumentation and voices.
UPDATE ~ Katsuaki Sano has very kindly sent details of another Sam 45 - on New York label LLP. The details are now in the discography. He writes that Let's Talk It Over is another earlier version of the Tower 45 - also produced by Johnny Brantley. He says that the LLP version is more southern sounding than the Tower release. And he's right - this cut is definitely rawer with a cruder production. But Sam still gets his teeth into the song - what a singer. The LLP B side is "an average beat number". LLP stands for Lenny Lewis Productions. Mr Sano also supplied the pic of the LLP 45 and kindly gave permission for the soundclip of the better side to be sent to me by Naoya Yamauchi.
You tempt me / I can’t stand the pain ~ MUSIC WORLD 104 (mid 60s)
Let's talk it over / I'm gonna build a castle ~ LLP 107
So called friend / Miracle worker ~ UPTOWN 742 (1967)
Let's talk it over / Love slipped through my fingers ~ TOWER 367 (1967)
1. If you really want to know more about Brantley's involvement with Jimi Hendrix there's an excellent site here.
2. Brantley also cut Billy Lamont on "So Called Friends" (Bran-T 9930). Is this a later cut? It certainly features a much bigger sound and more instruments. The basic rhythm track is a different one to the Uptown 45. One of them Brantley stripped down once Hendrix was a big star and rebranded it as a Jimi cut.
I am really grateful to both Katsuaki Sano and Naoya Yamauchi for providing this really interesting new info.