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ZZ Hill - The Brand New ZZ Hill

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 16 / 12 / 2013

ZZ Hill - The Brand New ZZ Hill
Label: Alive Naturalsound
Format: CD


Excellent reissue of classic 1971 album from late Texan-born soul singer and legend, ZZ Hill

My first brush with Arzell "ZZ" Hill was when I was DJing at a Northern Soul venue, and someone who had the slot after me put a shuffling early R&B track on. Instantly taking to the gorgeous Southern almost bluesy sound, I then went on to buy up most of ZZ Hill’s early output, mostly on the Kent label. Tracks like ‘No More Doggin’, ‘Where She At’, ‘Have Mercy Someone’ and my own favourite ‘Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep’ were a staple in my DJ box at the time. Hill was born in 1935 in Naples, Texas, and began his singing career in the late 1950s. Arzell was part of a gospel group called the Spiritual Five, spending most of the time touring Texas. Around the start of the 60’s he began collecting records by the likes of B. B. King, Freddie King, Sam Cooke, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Wilson Pickett, and began singing and writing songs influenced by these brilliant soulsters. Hill then released singles for Atlantic, Mankind, and brother Matt Hill’s MH Records until In 1971 he finally scored his first big hit for the huge label United Artists. ‘Don't Make Me Pay for His Mistakes’ went into the Top 20 on the R & B charts. Several more hits followed, and in 1977 whilst on Columbia his single ‘Love is So Good When You're Stealing It’ became another smash hit. Hill then switched to Malaco Records, but sadly he died in 1984 from a heart attack following a car crash. This little gem of an album was recorded, produced and arranged by legendary soul master Jerry ‘Swamp Dogg’ Williams, a leviathan amongst producers of funky soul recordings. There is music on this album that is pure Southern Soul with that unmistakeable Swamp Dogg vibe – just give the first track "It Ain't No Use" its full play and you’ll agree with its bluesy guitar which meanders above the Southern brass that is behind it. This recording also includes the wonderful ‘Second Chance’, ‘Our Love is Getting Better’, ‘Faithful and True’, ‘Choking Kind’, ‘Hold Back (One Man at a Time)’, ‘A Man Needs a Woman (A Woman Needs a Man)’, ‘Early in the Morning’ and the later funky ‘I Think I'd Do It’. All these classic songs tell of love gone bad, and are coupled with sarcastic banter and inevitable tears, all of which encapsulated by Z.Z. Hill's magical vocal. Swamp Dogg himself released the album, mastered at Woodland Sound Studio, on CD in 2003, and it was originally released on the Mankind label in 1971. If you are new to Hill’s unique sound, then this will give you a great insight into a sadly missed artist. If like me you are no stranger to ZZ Hill, this will be a valuable addition to your CD collection due to its bonus tracks on the second half. Either way this is a piece of soul history right at your fingertips.

Track Listing:-
1 It Aint' No Use (Blues At The Opera:
2 Ha Ha (The Laughing Song) [Blues At T
3 Second Chance (Blues At The Opera: A
4 Our Love Is Getting Better (Blues At Th
5 Faithful and True (Blues At The Opera:
6 The Chokin' Kind
7 Hold Back (One Man At a Time)
8 A Man Needs a Woman (A Woman Nee
9 Early In the Morning
10 I Think I'd Do It

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