Percy Mayfield: Master Song-Writer and R&B singer
27th January 2017
Title: Lost Love: The Singles As & Bs 1947-1962
There are 56 tracks packed onto two CDs here from the blues/R&B poet and singing genius.
In mastering terms, there have been many compromises in terms of the final sound quality because that is variable in the extreme. For example, right from the off we have Part 1 of 1947’s Jack You Ain’t Nowhere which is full of sweeping noise, essentially from source wear which sounds like a dub from another record or possibly acetate. Of course, the rarity element of this collection has to be taken into consideration and so much of it has to be categorised as an archive collection as opposed to an audiophile showcase.
By the time we get to 1950’s Half Awake (Baby You’re Still A Square), the inherent quality is far higher with a structured soundstage. Yes, the recording offers a measure of compression which sounds like it was created for basic radios and record players (which it most certainly was) but provides a real sense of time and place so is all the better for it, in many respects.
From 1951, The Lonely One increases the quality still further. Mayfield’s vocal drawl in front of small orchestra which sounds like it’s dead on its feet and ready for bed with a drunken piano frolicking in the back. This superb track is not only an audiophile’s delight, considering the date, it’s shows Mayfield’s skill and talent in how to control and deliver a song to maximise the strong emotions behind it.
The tragedy is that less than a year later, he would only survive a horrific car crash with a tragic facial disfigurement. The man never stopped though, this is the guy who penned Ray Charles’ (rather unfortunately named) Hit The Road Jack.
A real treasure trove of sonic and artistic delights that fascinates as much as it delights.