Roscoe Robinson “Why Must It End” (Soulscape SSCS 7015)
By Kev Briscoe
One More Time; That's Enough; Darling, Please Tell Me; Why Are You Afraid; Let Me Know; One Bo-Dillion Years; Fox Hunting On A Weekend; You Don't Move Me No More; Why Must It End; How Many Times Must I Knock; I'm Burning And Yearning (For You); Standing In The Safety Zone; You're All I Need; My Pride Won't Let Me; Don't Forget The Soldiers (Fighting In Vietnam); Tis Yuletide; That's It; In Time You'll See; Leave You In The Arms Of Your Other Man; Oo Wee Baby I Love You.
When Soulscape issued this CD it completed a trio of consecutive Sound Stage 7 releases, Ella Washington and Sam Baker being the others, and ‘Southern Soul’ fans must have been jumping for joy. Twenty tracks; covering the best of his secular recordings for his own label, Gerri and both sides of his five Sound Stage 7 releases.
The first track, “One More Time”, was the first release on Gerri and is a perfect introduction to his rich baritone voice. After a lovely piano introduction Robinson slips into a deceptively laid back vocal approach sounding totally at ease in the studio. The other side “That’s Enough” needs no introduction and became a million seller when eventually picked up by Wand. It became a ‘club classic’ in the UK when issued over here and was one of the first Soul records I ever heard and subsequently bought when I was a spotty faced school boy! It still manages to get the toes tapping every time I hear it some forty odd years later, Brilliant!
The next track, “Darling Please Tell Me” takes us into his Sound Stage 7 repertoire and what a record it is. Recorded in Memphis at American and don’t we know it, right from that infectious guitar opening (reminiscent of Womack on Ella Washington’s “I Cant Afford to Lose Him”, is this Bobby as well or Reggie Young) we are drawn into a wonderful mid paced track. As is usual with this studio it’s the perfect marriage of top class vocals and musicianship. This was coupled with “Why Are You Afraid, another fine mid pacer very much in the same vein.
His second release for the label however, takes the pace down dramatically and “Let Me Know” and is rightly acknowledged as a Deep Soul masterpiece. Like all good Southern ballads the music, with strings added as well, is restrained enough to allow Robinsons voice to shine through.
The next three tracks are all good examples of up tempo Southern Soul and illustrate that Robinson’s voice was just as expressive with this style as it was on the slower numbers. And talking of ballads this brings us to his fourth release on the label and the CD’s title track.
“Why Must It End” is quite simply a brilliant Deep Soul opus with Robinson’s voice at its best. The addition of strings to the Memphis Boys again works well, check out the opening ten seconds. Personally I could have done without the female backing singers but they don’t detract from what is a superb track. It’s a toss up between this and “Let me Know” as to which his best recording for the label.
His last release was recorded in Nashville and “I'm Burning And Yearning (For You)” is another particular favourite of mine. Once again it’s taken at mid pace with a melody reminiscent of “My Girl” Robinsons voice just shines throughout.
The next two tracks were originally unissued at the time; “You're All I Need” is fine up-tempo song with some superb guitar work and with “My Pride Won't Let Me” would not have disgraced the main label.
“Don’t Forget The Soldiers (Fighting In Vietnam)” is a frantic stomper with Gospel overtones which delivers a heart felt message but is not really my thing. I’m not overly fond of Christmas songs as well but “Tis Yuletide” is pleasant enough and Robinson’s voice is faultless as always.
It was common for artists to return to their past glories in order to cash in on the popularity of previous hits. Very rarely, if at all, does this work and sadly “That's It” is a perfect example. Unashamedly trying to copy the feel of “That’s Enough” it doesn’t work at all! However, the other side of the Gerri 45, “In Time You'll See” is another matter all together and is yet another fine ballad.
This brings us to “Leave You In The Arms Of Your Other Man”, issued originally on Gerri before being picked up and subsequently remixed by Atlantic. This is another highly regarded Deep Soul ballad and sits up there as one of his very best performances. Once more we have the perfect combination of a top class studio band and superb singing, giving a bluesy edge to Robinsons own composition. I would have loved Johnnie Taylor to have covered this!
It’s a testament to the man’s career that this fine compilation only covers a part of his musical output. Hopefully after listening to this CD in its entirety people will realise that Robinson is up there with Redding, Carr, Taylor, Wiggins et al as one of the great Soul voices.