Jackie Moore ‘The Complete Atlantic Recordings’ 2CD (Real Gone Music/Rhino) 4/5

jackie-mooreIf fans of disco will instantly remember ‘This time baby’, then there is in fact a more soulful side to the voice of Jackie Moore and this is precisely the angle which this fine anthology of her work for the Atlantic label aims to focus attention on. For aficionados there is major bonus of no less than thirteen songs previously unreleased from the vaults and these are generally of excellent quality. The music as a whole covers the period 1969-1974 and Moore was about to enter into a particularly productive part of her career and this was due in no small part to her musical collaboration with her cousin, producer and pianist Dave Crawford who would a few years later facilitate Candi Staton’s rise to fame. The jewel in the crown of her early recording career was unquestionably her 1970 top thirty and number one R & B single, ‘Precious Precious’ and this is one southern soul groover of a tune that still sounds as fresh as when it was first cut. What was less known about the mid-tempo number is that it featured some of the top southern instrumentalists and these included Dr. John on piano and the Memphis Horns, the latter of whom provide their trademark stabbing horns while the female background harmonies are straight out of deep gospel territory. A stunning rendition, then, and an ideal way to gain a foothold and reputation nationally. Equally compelling is the lovely relaxed ambiance that permeates ‘Wonderful, marvellous’ and this is greatly aided by the support of the Dixie Flyers while Moore offers a dramatic interpretation on the tear-jerking, ”Sometimes it’s got to rain (in your love life)’. The varied set of tempos is reflected in some Stax-style driven funk on ‘I forgive you’ which settles into a gritty soul-blues hue and this suits Moore’s voice perfectly while the gospel-infused ‘Here I am’ is a pretext for Dave Crawford to join his cousin for a vocal duet. Jackie Moore was influenced by some of the finest singers at the time and the spoken intro on ‘Set me free’ reveals a stylistic nod towards Shirley Brown whereas ‘Do wrong man’ surely takes a cue from Aretha’s ‘Do right woman’ which is not bad thing. Incredibly the former has remained unreleased until now and one wonders why since it is an irresistible slice of early 1970s soul music. Among the male singers that Moore listened to, Percy Sledge was probably one and her take on ‘Cover me’ was a song that Sledge had attempted previously in 1967. The second CD is more contemporary in nature and has a less cohesive feel to it. There are examples of Philly-inspired and composed songs, notably from the pen of Bunny Sigler, while arguably one of the strongest numbers is the cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I love every little thing about you’. Once again informative sleeve notes from soul specialist writer David Nathan leave no stone unturned and take the picture up to and beyond 1983 which was the last time Jackie Moore secured a chart entry. Now in her late sixties, we have the opportunity to hear the singer in her prime and that is very good news indeed for any self-respecting soul music fan.

Tim Stenhouse