Ralph "Soul" Jackson
is celebrating the release of his first full-length LP, The Alabama Love Man
. He's been making the record with some help from friends and admirers for more than three years. But Jackson has been recording his brand of soul music with little success for more than forty years.
In 1965, 18-year-old Ralph Jackson sat down with a reel-to-reel and recorded his first song, Don't Tear Yourself Down
. He sent it to producer Rick Hall of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. Hall invited Jackson to cut a single. The song went nowhere. Undeterred, Hall paired Jackson with Spooner Oldham (who along with Dan Penn had written the hit Cry Like A Baby
for The Box Tops). It was Oldham's idea to have Jackson record a punchy, soulful, horn-driven cover of Cream's Sunshine of Your Love
. But the cover sank without a ripple. Jackson plugged on, recording an incendiary cover of Carl Perkins' Matchbox
(If you only click one link in this post, make it this one). But Jackson couldn't catch a break. Obscurity awaited. His singles went unreleased or self-released with little or no distribution. Things got pretty bleak. He made some mistakes. He did some time.
But that's all behind him now. A clean, sober, and invigorated Jackson is making audiences sit up and take notice again. He's got his own website
. There's talk of a documentary
. At age 65, he's still got (most of) the voice, (all) the charisma, and the chops to light up a room. Admittedly, they're small rooms. Like the legendary Gip's Place
, where Jackson recently performed, good-naturedly humoring a band that couldn't keep up with him
. (That handsome feller in the front, with the cowboy hat? That's Gip. He deserves his own FPP. The man's a living legend.) He's making them scream at the Continental Club
in Austin, TX
. Things are looking up.
Here's a few more tunes to brighten your Saturday:
Set Me Free
I Shot The Sheriff
Rainy Night In Georgia
I Will Take Care Of You
and My Mind My Body My Heart
(live from Jackson's home studio, where it is obvious the man is still having fun making music)