Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Little Taste of Soul

The Sims Twins - Shake It On Up

In a perfect world, talented acts like the Sims (alternatively spelled "Simms") Twins would've been as big as Sam & Dave, who they influenced, or would have the soul fan cult following that Eddie & Ernie have. Their handful of sides for Sam Cooke's SAR concern were the commercial high point of their career, particularly in their lone big hit, "Soothe Me." After SAR folded following Sam's death, the duo moved from label to label, leaving behind lots of good, if not brilliant, material but never hitting the big time. I don't think this happened because of any lack of talent by the Sims brothers, but perhaps because of poor choices, both personal (Peter Guralnick relates in the Sam Cooke bio Dream Boogie that Sam, ever the businessman and professional, was aggrieved by their lack of discipline) and professional (it seems that J. W. Alexander, one of the SAR principals, was involved in most of their post-SAR career; not to knock Alexander, but he wasn't quite the "mover and shaker" in the business that Sam was as a songwriter or producer). I think also that they were generally saddled with songs that were good enough to show off their great vocal chops but not really special enough to break on through. Today's selection is a good example of this.

"Shake It On Up," which was co-written and produced by J.W. Alexander, was a 1972 release on the reactivated Specialty label. The lyrics have a nice "dance, girl" flavor and the juxtaposition of such lyrics against a mellower groove than you would imagine a song like this having is very appealing, but the tune is almost like a petit amuse, just a little palate cleanser of soul to enjoy before getting into some more filling stuff. But, of course, the amuse is as much a part of a meal as an entree, so I present it for today's menu.

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