Born Jun. 15 1944 Jacksonville, Fl. Hinton is one of the greatest white soul singers of the modern era- dubbed "the white Otis Redding". His guitar playing can be heard on hit records by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Joe Tex, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Johnny Taylor, Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, Otis Redding & more with the Muscle Shoals [Alabama] Sound Rhythm Section from 1967 to 1971. Hinton was just 22 when he was invited to the Shoals area by fellow songwriter and producer Martin Greene. The Hinton/Greene songwriting and producing team produced several country/soul hits, including "Cover Me," and "It's All Wrong But It's Alright" for Percy Sledge. It was until 1978 that Hinton had a record under his own name, the Capricorn Records, "Very Extremely Dangerous". In 1982, Jimmy Johnson of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm section took Hinton into the studio to record a half dozen songs for a new album, but that project was never released. Hinton's personal life fell apart soon after. Seemingly always a "hard luck guy" (after all he turned down joining the Allman Brothers before they made it big! Oops), Hinton was living on the streets in Decatur, Alabama when he ran into an old friend, John D. Wyker. Wyker saw to it that Hinton again had housing with the plan to record again. With the help of some friends, Owen Brown and Jeff Simpson, Wyker began recording Hinton at Birdland Recording Studio and the new songs were combined with material recorded by Jimmy Johnson in 1982. The result was "Letters From Mississippi". He began touring on the buzz from this album. He was soon signed by Rounder Records and two albums were released. He was working on a third, he suffered a fatal heart attack. Hinton died far too young at age 51 on July 28, 1995. Since then four compilations of unreleased material have surfaced and further cemented Hinton's reputation as one of the most criminally-ignored soul singers of the modern era.
"Very Extremely Dangerous" (Capricorn 1978)
1. You Got Me Singing
**** Smack dab in the middle of the disco era (1978), Hinton dropped a fabulous, authentic soul album like he was completely unaware of what the kiddies were diggin' at the time. Backed by the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins) plus the Muscle Shoals Horns (Harvey Thompson, Ronnie Eades, Harrison Calloway, Charles Rose + Dennis Good), Hinton shouts and wails through 9 originals and a cover of Otis Redding's "Shout Bamalama" like his life depended on it. Interestingly, originals like "You Got Me Singing" and "I Got The Feeling" sound even more like Otis than the cover song. Hinton was one of the best if not thebest white soul singer of the modern era, revered by musicians, adored by other artists but unlucky with the buying public. Such a defiantly deep soul record in the era of bell bottoms and Bee Gees was a risky concept from the get go. 27 years later soul aficionados are sure glad he tried.
"Letters From Mississippi" (Zane 1987)
1. My Searching Is Over
**1/2 In 1982, Hinton began recording with guitarist Jimmy Johnson (from Muscle Shoals rhythm section) to record an album that wasn't completed. Hinton had various personal trials thereafter and was allegedly living on the streets in Alabama when he ran into an old friend, John D. Wyker. Wyker saw to it that Hinton again had housing with the plan to record again. Wyker gathered the 1982 tracks recorded with Johnson and had Hinton record new ones to fill an album. Hinton sings with intense passion, perhaps from years of frustration, but is frequently stymied by the cold, stiff production (primarily the sound of the drums and/or drum programs). This was the 80s after all and Hinton's timeworn voice and style doesn't match with the then current technology. Hinton is rockin' hard but this sounds like a series of demos. Still "Letters From Mississippi" contains strong songs like "My Searching Is Over", "Everybody Meets Mr. Blue", "Everbody Needs Love", "Sad And Lonesome" & the rockin' title cut but the arrangements are flat. The sparse "I Want A Woman" & "I Will Come Running Back To You" fare better. Further reissues added the bonus tracks "My Love" & "I Believe In Love". The latter is very similar to "Concept World" from "Very Extremely Dangerous".
"Cry & Moan" (Bullseye Blues 1991)
1. Come on Home Baby Lee
*** May God bless Rounder's Bullseye Blues label, which had a track record of signing 60s & 70s soul & blues legends got another shot with the label...and so did Hinton. Although Hinton's voice is ragged and torn it's full of passion. There's fine Memphis soul/blues numbers here like "I Found A True Love", "I Gotta Testfy" & the title cut as if it were 1965.
"Very Blue Highway" (Bullseye Blues 1993)
1. I Love Someone
**** Ever wonder what Otis Redding might have sounded like had he survived to the 90s? Well, this is the next best thing. Hinton's back on a prodigious track for the first time since his heyday, writing quality song one after another like these burnin' 13 tracks mixed with Memphis soul, blues, swamp & Southern rock. Horn-fueled movers like "I Need Someone" and heavy-rollin' groovers like "Rock Of My Soul" all sung with no restraint. There's also a good share of Staxy blues ("Poor Ol' Me") and dead solid perfect Atlantic soul ("Very Blue Highway"). Lest I forget to mention ace swamp soul ala "Hey Justine." The proceedings benefit from heavy hitters like the Memphis Horns (Andrew Love, Wayne Jackson), organist Ron Levy and old friend Jeff Simpson on drums. A triumphant return that was short lived as this was the last record released while the "white Otis Redding" was alive.
"Hard Luck Guy" (Capricorn 1999)
1. Hard Luck Guy
****1/2 Fantastic posthumous disc combines material Hinton was working on prior to his death plus songs recorded during but never released around the time of the 1978 "Very Extremely Dangerous" sessions. Jerry Wexler calls Hinton "a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated." If had any doubts they will be alleviated here. Why staggering soulful cuts like "Hard Luck Guy" never made the record is beguiling indeed. Studio legends Spooner Oldham, Donnie Fritt, Dan Penn & more helped to finish the tracks after Hinton passed but you'd never guess. While Hinton's voice was certainly weathered on the 1995 tracks like the Otis Redding cover "Sad Song" in comparison to the full throttle "Here I Am" from '78, the record feels like a whole rather than a mix and match. The humorous "300 Pounds Of Hongry" is great country-soul, "I Can't Be Me", vintage Muscle Shoals soul, "What Would I Do Without You", a classic 60s-style Atlantic slowie and "I Got My Thang Together", a Southern rocker.
"Dear Y'all: The Songwriting Sessions" (Zane 2004)
1. Build Your Own Fire
*** First CD in a series of "songwriting sessions" exhibits just how great (and ignored) Hinton was not only as a songwriter but as a singer. Ragged, unbridled and heartbreaking his voice was and it can be heard on the original demos of songs he wrote for Percy Sledge ("Cover Me" and "It's All Wrong, But it's Alright"), Aretha Franklin ("Every Natural Thing"), and Bobby Womack ("Just a Little Bit Salty"). This 19-track collection also includes Hinton originals that should've been covered by somebody, such as "Build Your own Fire", '"Dangerous Highway", "I'm On the Right Road Now" & "Happiness Is Just Around The Corner". If you set aside he was writing for others you can't help but hear a voice that belies that of a mere demo singer. Further sweetening the deal is the inclusion of Hinton's very own first single, "Dreamer" plus two outtakes from Hinton's classic 1978 LP "Very Extremely Dangerous" (alternates of "We Got It" & "Get Off In It"). Regardless of the actual circumstances under which this material was recorded this stands as a solid soul compilation under the name: Eddie Hinton.
"Playin' Around: The Songwriting Sessions Vol. 2" (Zane 2004)
1. Big City Woman
** For completists. Rather mediocre collection is nevertheless fascinating in it's almost voyeuristic appeal. Here are Eddie's demos of Hinton songs given to or later recorded by Wayne Cochran ("Big City Woman"), Shemekiah Copeland ("Something Heavy"), Don Varner, The Hour Glass ("Home For The Summer"), plus two good live tracks ("The Well Of Love", "Mr. Pitiful").
"The Anthology 1969-1993: A Mighty Field Of Vision" (Raven 2005)
1. I Got the Feeling - (live)
****1/2 Hinton's legend has continued to grow since his death in 1995. Three posthumous releases have nearly doubled the output once available. Most notable was the fabulous "Hard Luck Guy" that combined material he was working on at the time of his death with unreleased 90s tracks. What followed was two sets of demos Hinton laid down during "songwriting sessions" in the late 60s and 70s. This 21-track comp "A Mighty Field Of Vision" is the first attempt to present the very best of the "white Otis Redding". Culled from tracks released on Capricorn, Rounder, Zane, MSS and by the Hinton Estate, this terrific collection of Southern soul, blues, rock and R & B opens with 4 tracks from his lost classic LP "Very Extremely Dangerous" ("I Got The Feeling", "Concept World", "You Got Me Singing", Otis Redding's "Shout Bamalama") before presenting what collectors may be most interested in- three tracks new to his canon ("Just Like The Fool I Was", "Heavy Makes You Happy" & "Got Down Last Saturday Night"). While not his very best they are sweaty, raw and loose and worth having. Next up are a few tracks from his uneven 1986 album "Letters From Mississippi". ("My Searching Is Over", "Everybody Needs Love", "I Want A Woman", "Sad And Lonesome"), four from "Hard Luck Guy" ("Here I Am", "Sad Song", "300 Hundreds Pound Of Hongry", & "What Would I Do Without You"), a couple tracks from the songwriting demo albums, "Dear Y'All" & "Playin' Around", and the last five from his two Bullseye Blues albums- 3 from "Cry And Moan" and 2 from "Very Blue Highway". Very comprehensive indeed but there is, however, one glaring omission- the title track to "Hard Luck Guy". It's easily one of his best performances and it's absence is bewildering. Nevertheless, this tidy introduction to Hinton may finally place him among the great soul singers of the modern era where he belongs.
"Beautiful Dream: Sessions Volume 3" (Zane 2005)
1. Nice Girl
*** It's remarkable that Zane Records is still able to dig up 16 more unreleased tracks on the amazing Eddie Hinton. Called the "white Otis Redding" so many times it's become a irritating cliché' but, dangit, it's true. "Beautiful Dream" is the third in a series of "songwriting sessions"- demos Hinton recorded of songs he wrote for other artists, outtakes from his own records and plain ole' messin' around in the studio. The previous installment, "Playin' Around: Songwriting Sessions, Vol. 2" was kinda thin on good tracks so when "Volume 3" was announced I feared what could actually be left in the vault. Surprisingly, this is much stronger than it's predecessor. It fluctuates in quality but everything's interesting, if not entirely successful. Always a "hard luck guy", Hinton never achieved the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime and none of the 6 originals he wrote for others were ever covered. But, truthfully, only the country-soul title cut merits mention anyway. Better is his versions of other folk's songs- especially three written by K. Cater & Fred Styles. The soulful, bittersweet "Nice Girl" is a gem. What a vocal! "You Made Me Sing" is a gut wrenching ballad similar to his "Very Extremely Dangerous"sessions, and the drivin' "Just Another Wild Affair" are as good as anything he's done. On the flip side, only a hardcore fan needs alternate recordings of "Let It Roll" (from Bullseye's "Very Blue Highway") and "Everybody Meets Mr. Blue" (from "Letters From Mississippi") and that's the one drawback of this posthumous projects- some killer- some filler. Had Zane combined the very best of these three "songwriting demos" it would make for an unbelievably good record! (Got my CD-R burner warming up). If you are Hinton fan you simply gotta have it.
"Live At Rosa's Cantina 1979" (Echoes 2017)
1 My Lover’S Prayer