Monday, May 22, 2006

Lynn White - Hooked On Your Love (Waylo 3022)


Hooked On Your Love

Alabama born Lynn White grew up singing in her church choir, and soon developed into a sultry soul singer that performed professionally in the deep South. Her 1981 debut single, "Am I Too Much Woman For You" didn't make much noise, but when Sho Me Records released I Don't Ever Wannna See Your Face Again the following year, people began to take notice.

One of those people was Willie Mitchell up in Memphis, who liked the record so much that he put it out on his own label, Waylo, and signed Lynn to a recording contract. With "Poppa Willie" producing, records like Slow And Easy and Get Your Lie Straight sold well regionally, and she became a well known fixture on the Southern Soul circuit.

Today's B side (the flip of He'll Leave You For Her), was released in 1987 and shows the evolution of Mitchell's trademark sound. Cool guitar, huh? I'm loving the background vocals on the 'hook', too. This girl could sing, y'all!

After four albums (and about ten singles), Lynn left Waylo to form her own record company, Chelsea. Her 1990 effort, The New Me, was followed by Home Girl in '91 and Cheatin' two years later. That is the last reference I can find on her. Does anyone know if she's still performing today?



When Willie Mitchell sold Hi Records and its catalogue to Cream Records in the late 70s, he kept ownership of the "plant" down on South Lauderdale Avenue in Memphis and continued to produce great records at Royal Studio. His output in the eighties is often overlooked, as most of it lacked any kind of real national distribution, and didn't make the R&B charts.

His "Waylo Family" included great artists like Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, Lanier & Company and Billy Always (not to mention Lynn White), and there are some great records out there from this period just waiting to be discovered...

As I'm sure most of you know, I just got back from my journey to New Orleans and Memphis. Although I did a lot of cool things (and heard a lot of great music), the high point of the trip (by far) was when I knocked on the door of 1320 Willie Mitchell Boulevard. The door was answered by Julius Bradley, who's been working with Willie for over 30 years (he's actually a co-writer of today's selection!). What a great guy. He showed me around the place, and we talked about everything from Tuff Green to Al Green, and the Al Jacksons, both Jr & Sr.

I had heard about the legendary sound board at Royal, and how it's been around since the 1950's, but I couldn't believe I was really standing there looking at it. Julius said Willie doesn't believe in any of that digital recording stuff, and that he's had this board repaired so many times that every part in it's probably been replaced or rewired at one time or another. "The board is what gives it that sound", he said.

Looking around the place, you can see the home-made baffles and sound-proofing that have been there since the days of Bill Black and Ace Cannon. The place is literally like a time capsule, man. It was unbelievable.

Julius let me go in the vocal isolation booth and stand there in the spot where O.V.Wright, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, Al Green (#9 was HIS microphone...), and so many others laid down all that soul. It was just plain amazing...

Then of course there was the actual Hammond organ that Charles Hodges played on all time favorites like Love And Happiness and Take Me To The River... it just boggled the mind, man. I was in awe.

I had visited the Smithsonian's Rock 'n' Soul Museum, and had just come from the STAX Museum tour with Peter Guralnick and Robert Gordon. While both of those were fantastic, must see experiences, everything was like safe and protected, with no cameras allowed... like soul under glass or something.

This was real.

When I turned a corner and saw all these master tapes just sitting there on these bookshelves, I realized just how real it was. This is the place where so much great music was recorded. It's still owned by Willie Mitchell, who runs it. It's not a re-creation, it's not a museum; it's a functioning old school recording studio, the same as it ever was (Julius is working on a Gospel album there now himself, and promises to set us up with a copy as soon as it's completed...).

When I actually got the chance to talk to "Poppa Willie", and shake his hand, and sit down and tell him how I didn't think he got enough credit... how without him the whole "Memphis Sound" would never have existed, he listened politely while he noodled with a little keyboard that he keeps by the side of his desk. We spoke for a while about Stax and Al Jackson, Jr. and O.V. Wright... about his own mid-sixties tours with his crack Soul Serenade era band, and about Syl Johnson and Percy Wiggins performing with Hi Rhythm at the Ponderosa Stomp the night before. I asked him if he'd ever be interested in performing in public again, and he told me "No, I'm happy just to stay here and make the records." Just like he's been doing for over 40 years.

"No man is a prophet in his own home", I told him, as I stepped back into the sunlight of East Memphis... a city that appears very big on celebrating it's black heritage once it's dead and gone and re-packaged and 'safe'. Although they re-named the section of South Lauderdale Avenue between McLemore and South Parkway "Willie Mitchell Boulevard" in 2004, it hardly seems like enough.

This man is like the Duke Ellington of soul music, man... it was truly an honor to meet him.

12 Comments:

Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yeah, you right, Red. Royal is the real deal. Sanctified. I had the honor of being in there several times. One of 'em was when a friend of mine and I went in to shop some songs we'd written. Met with Poppa Willie, a true gentleman, who took time to listen to our stuff and talk to us nobodies. An associate of his ended up producing one of the tunes for a young female singer they were working with at the time. It came out on Willie's O'ona label. I'll have have to dig that 45 out after I move. It's nothing great, but still. . .

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Rob Szarka said...

Sounds like a blast! Y'know, wider recognition or not, it's good just to hear that someone like Mitchell is in good health and able to work at what he loves. Really, can any of us ask for more? Here's to many more productive years!

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks - great article. Yes, I had the taxi drive by there after visiting the other piece of "holy ground" (Stax/Soulsville, during the opening of the museum a few years ago). So much great music came from there, and may it keep on rolling.

Lyle

10:54 PM  
Blogger mgconlan said...

I just did a Google search on Lynn White (I once bought the "Blues in My Bedroom" album from a remainder pile and was utterly impressed, particularly with her version of "Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home" and "If You Can't Come Home for Christmas") and I got two Web links: an album on Icehouse Records (http://www.icehouserecords.com/lwpg1.html) and a site at http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/Lynn%20White.html which lists recordings by her as late as 1998 (an album called "Touching Me" on the BLT label). It's amazing that this singer didn't become a major star, especially with Willie Mitchell producing her.

4:17 PM  
Blogger TravelingMermaid said...

Wow! What a cool song sung with such sultriness! SSSSSS!!!! I wasn't familiar with her - thanks for the intro!

12:10 AM  
Anonymous mr soul teller said...

Hi there. My name is Miguel Julian Im from Madrid (Spain)and I recorded my last album(under the name of Soul Tellers) at the Royal Studios, last spring produced by Willie Mitchell.He touched my heart and we truly got on well. I say thank you Willie from My Soul. God bless you

12:24 AM  
Blogger Soul Teller said...

AND GOD BLESS ALL THE PEOPLE THAT HELPED ME (WITH THEIR MONEY). ALELUYA GLORIA A DIOS!

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn White is now Pastor Lynn White and she is living in Olive Branch MS

10:58 AM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

Thank You for the update!

God Bless you, Pastor Lynn White!

11:26 AM  
Anonymous james reed said...

hey guys!
wanta see Willie Mitchell in action?
Watch this video of Soul Tellers recording and having a good time with them
click on:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykQE6FHy9VA

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LYNN White is a very powerful speaker. I heard her Saturday 27, Oct. What a word, I was blessed

11:01 AM  
Blogger Darcy said...

(These posts live on!) You could try here Red if you still need/would like to track Lynn down for a chat http://www.ndakno.com/WALL%20OF%20FAME.htm
It's a fair bet that's a recent picture of her.

Lynn does have a great voice doesn't she?

5:24 PM  

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