We’d love to share some of the recent press for the ‘Alabama Love Man’ and are happy to announce Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson will be returning to Austin, TX, at the Continental Club, where Ralph appeared as part of The Rabbit Factory Soul Revue back in 2007 during SXSW. The show is December 7th with the Saucerians. Hopefully we’ll see you there!
Recent Press Below:
The question of who Ralph “Soul” Jackson is, is a bit of a complicated one to answer. Depending on where you look online, you’ll find bits and pieces of the following three talking points: 1) He comes from Phenix City, Alabama. 2) He snuck into the deep south’s music clubs in the 1960s as a kid, thus exposing him to an acutely original kind of soul and funk. And 3) The Alabama Love Man may or may not be his first actual proper album—after nearly a half-century in the music business—despite reports that he was brought to Muscle Shoals decades ago to record his first single.
And that’s it. That’s the list.
But despite those confusing, disputable truths, there’s still one thing missing from all the record label bios and dead links that clutter a few Google search results: His latest eight-song effort on The Rabbit Factory imprint is the single greatest music release of 2012 that you almost certainly have yet to hear. It’s got soul, it’s got funk, and most importantly, it’s got more authenticity than the Alabama Shakes playing on a back porch during a 95-degree day in Jackson, Mississippi.
Actually, the recent success of Brittany Howard and company was probably something that helped push Jackson into getting this underground masterpiece out and on store shelves, anyway. Though if that’s the case, 2011’s buzziest band better watch their backs because not only does “Soul” upstage them when it comes to old school funk, but he also knows how to craft more pop choruses than his closest contemporaries. This, friends, is what soul music is supposed to be.
The Alabama Love Man is dirty. From the opening guitar lines of “I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone” to the final croons of “I’ll Take Care Of You”, Jackson’s weathered voice sounds like it comes directly from a 1967 house party at 926 East McLemore Avenue. And his band certainly holds up its end of the bargain, too, as the cats he recruited for this modern-day dose of retro perfection play the parts flawlessly, accentuating the horns when they call for it, switching up the groove when the tempo begins to lag and showering it all with a rainstorm of funk that is as sincere as it comes.
“You’ve Been Very Good To Me”, for instance, simply sounds like Duck Dunn had a hand in its production, and Estelle Axton immediately began playing the 45 in her Satellite Record Shop. Dedicated “to all the pretty ladies out there who have been real good to their man”, the track bleeds the Stax sound as Jackson evokes Otis Redding’s falsetto and Rufus Thomas’ unorthodox growl. The slow feel simmers so consistently for three-and-a-half minutes that anybody with a pulse can’t help but shake their shoulders by the time verse two comes around.
“Vehicle” is funky enough to get any Memphis party started with its pitter-patter vocal track and the climactic pre-choruses that allow for an explosion by the time the hook appears. “There Must Be A Reason” showcases a doo-wop approach for people who like a side of 6/8 waltz with their Al Green ballad. “Searching” is as poppy as true soul can get, making a darn good case for the most unheard Top 40 hit of 1971 (recorded in 2000-something-or-other) as its horn line promises to stay with listeners for days.
Jackson is at his best, though, when he opts to combine his strengths, which is why “I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone” is easily the set’s most memorable. A shoe-in for year-end Best Of lists, the track’s wah-wah-heavy funk guitar gives way to a fantastically precise horn part that confirms the artist’s place among today’s most authentic and original soul acts. There is nothing “neo” about this as Jackson’s low moans add a type of yesteryear flavor to selected spots of the verses and the slightly sugar-coated chorus all but promises to have any soul-music-lover’s attention for days. It’s pretty great stuff.
Actually, The Alabama Love Man as a whole really has nothing but great stuff, and if you’ve ever jived to a Booker T. and the MGs record or turned the volume up to an Eddie Floyd classic, these eight songs should reserve a spot among the best rhythm and blues records you own. It’s a timeless sound, the one that Ralph “Soul” Jackson seemingly finds so easy to emulate, but it’s also a sound that is typically shunned in favor of the kind of modern-day gloss that always seems to creep its way into every recent soul recording. None of that pop production is here, though, and the end product is a lot better off for it.
Is this really the first release from a guy who has spent 40 years in the music industry without managing to get a single full-length album on store shelves? Who knows. But then again, who cares? When you put out something as good as The Alabama Love Man, you’re allowed to take your time. Besides, these eight songs sound just as good today as they would have in the 1960s, when this kind of spectacular blend was more the norm than it was the retro or the hip. Here’s hoping there’s more of the same that’s ready to come down the pipeline, and here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 40 years to finally get it in our hands.
-Colin McGuire, Popmatters
Almost five decades after his first single, Alabama soul man Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson finally gets around to releasing a full length record. Featuring seven originals and a tight version of the Ides of March soul shouter classic “Vehicle,” Jackson sounds nimble, amped and ready to tussle.
Jackson is a part of that wickedly groove happy school of Southern Soul that the studios in Memphis and Muscle Shoals cranked out in a massive outpouring of classic sides in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In other words, and with all due respect to Motown, Philadelphia and New Orleans, Jackson is part of arguably the most vital lineage of soul music in history.
Recorded over a couple of years in Jackson’s home of Phenix City, AL and in Chicago, and using a rotating cast of musicians that includes members of Dead Rider, Mucca Pazza, US Maple, Detholz! and The Drastics (never heard of any of them…), Jackson and Co. deliver the goods on a modest but effective collection of tracks. “I Can’t Leave You Alone,” “You’ve Been Very Good To Me” “Somewhere In This World” and “Vehicle” are real highlights. Tracks are relatively stripped down, with lots of great organ, steady rolling grooves and some nice horn playing. Southern fried soul is the recipe, so bits of gospel, blues and country hover around the edges. Jackson’s voice can twist from husky to smooth, and he’s got a nice command of the mid range, and sounds strong and good to go after 50 years or so of singing.
Nobody’s reinventing the wheel here – or soul music for that matter – but, yeah, so what. It’s great to hear Jackson finally get his due on a full length, and soul fans will be all over this one, so step right up, ya’ll.
-Carl Hanni, Blurt Magazine
The Alabama Love Man is a trip into the deep south, where there sprawls an optimism of love seemingly uncanny to a generation of tech geeks and window bashers. It captures one of the most soulful voices the world has probably never heard before, and is the debut of a southern soul man, who – rather puzzling – remained underground, with no official LP for nearly half a century. His voice – stirring and weathered – brings to mind the raw tones of immortals such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Al Green, and Terry Callier. He is the “Alabama Love Man,” Ralph “Soul” Jackson.
The project’s organic, side-of-the-road soul is less than intricate, but this works for Jackson as his vocals are able to bear the brunt of the work heard here. The homegrown compositions are simple, greasy and suave, and exhibit a lifetime of experience adorned with a parade of horns and organ-riffs of nostalgic sincerity.
“I Can’t Leave You Alone” opens the album on a big note, as the rhythm guitar strikes, ever-present organ, bouncing bass, and horn arrangement are among the best that’s heard throughout this release. The follow up, “You’ve Been Very Good To Me,” begins like an Al Green classic and settles into the most melodic groove featured on the set. The poppy and Stax-like “Searching” is decent, at best, however, it’s Jackson’s vocals that make this cut enjoyable – and the same could be said about the proceeding “For Just One Second” to a lesser extent.
“Somewhere in this world there’s a girl for me.”
“Somewhere In This World” yields a jumping groove that’s matches perfectly to the staccato of its backing vocals and Jackson’s natural sonic zing. “There Must Be a Reason” is a ballad that’s undemanding in writing, but executed well enough to come forward as one of the better pure soul records of the year.
The Alabama Love Man features eight songs in total – including a pretty modest cover of the Ides of March’s hit, “Vehicle.” And all of the songs are – in some ways – repressed by the glossy production that removes the grit often sought after in these types of records. This considered, Ralph Jackson and co. still pumps out a pleasant effort with a message of love and hopefulness which remains intact from start to finish.
Three years in the making, after so many years in the music business, it seems rather blasphemous that it took this long to see an official release from the now deemed, soul legend. But whatever the reason may be, may exist only in the never-ending potholes of what might have been. For now, the narrative of Ralph “Soul” Jackson’s is still being written almost fifty years later.
I am pleased to say that it does not disappoint.? I have now played it through a couple of times and the sound is strictly late sixties/early seventies in feel with a beefy horn section and a real band. There are touches of Al Green and one track even puts me in mind of Jimmy Lewis which is, of course, a good thing.? If I were to be hyper critical I will point out that there is no absolute ” killer” track on here and that a bit more variety in tempo would have improved it, but lovers of southern soul can buy without fear.
-John Lias, Southern Soul enthusiast
This is a terrific record from start to finish, and one I will play often in the coming weeks. My only (very minor) criticism of it is that there’s just not enough of it! Still, you can play it twice through in quick succession and not get bored, which is more than can be said for many other contemporary albums – some of which I’d struggle to get through even once without an attack of the yawns! ??
-Tony Rouncy, Ace/Kent Records
Some three years in the making, The Alabama Love Man is the debut album from the great Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson. We all knew Ralph could sing, and this package showcases his songwriting skills as well. With the committment to quality (and real instruments) we’ve come to expect from our friends at The Rabbit Factory, it’s available on both heavyweight vinyl and CD.
-Red Kelly, Soul Detective
This is fine ‘proper’ southern soul. Is there a killer cut? I think so – it’s the opener ‘I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone’. This should be played loud from on top of a hill!
-Greg Burgess, Southern Soul enthusiast
The return of a legend – or maybe more accurately, the first time this legend’s ever really gotten his due! Ralph Jackson’s been working in the Alabama soul underground for decades – yet this smoking album may well be the first time he’s ever really gotten out front, and able to do his thing – working with a tight group of younger musicians who really respect the southern soul vibe that Ralph’s going for – and help him hit a really great sound in the process! The set’s a soul record through and through – not one of these modern funk workouts with an old singer thrown into the mix – but the kind of old school album you’d hear from Malaco or Criteria Studios – particularly during that point when deep soul was growing up in the 70s. Production and arrangements are right on the money – and all tunes are written by Jackson, save for one totally great cover of The Ides Of March classic “Vehicle”!
-Dusty Groove, Inc.