Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Simon Power!

Joe Simon - Step By Step

By 1971 Joe Simon had established himself as the country soul artist with no peer (well, Joe Tex or Solomon Burke may have disagreed) with his great baritone and great songs such as "The Chokin' Kind," "Nine Pound Steel" and "Further on Down the Road" (his funky 45 masterpiece, "Moon Walk," will have to be covered in a different post). These hits and others had been produced by John Richbourg (WLAC's "John R") and released on Monument's Sound Stage Seven label. At the beginning of the decade, however, the SS7 label had a brief interruption in operations and John R signed Simon to Spring Records and started Joe on a new hitmaking path. The Power of Joe Simon was a smash LP, featuring production work from Gamble & Huff which added a new dimension to Simon's style (to be fair, Richbourg produced some great cuts on the LP as well; Simon's version of "Help Me Make It Through the Night" is my favorite). "Step By Step" was the leadoff track on the LP and it's a hot one. The string and horn intro captures your attention right away, and Simon acquits himself nicely over a mid-tempo groove. Although "Power of Love" and "Drowning in the Sea of Love" would be bigger hits, "Step by Step" has always been a personal favorite.

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