I'm thrilled that I finally discovered this lost 1970s soul music classic. And indeed, with lyrics that bite, and smoky southern soul music that permeates your mind, this CD reissue qualifies as a classic on all counts. Charlie Whitehead, aka Raw Spitt, gave us some incredible soul music during his short recording career.
In the excellent liner notes to this compilation, Tony Rounce wrote: "Whitehead is a classic attendee of soul's 'Coulda-Been-a-Contenda' academy. A man who, given the right sort of breaks by any company willing to invest a bit of time and money in career building, had enough talent to become --- well, if not the next Al Green or Marvin Gaye perhaps, then the next Tyrone Davis or Z.Z. Hill."
But Whitehead had the misfortune of recording for small labels with poor distribution, or in the case of one label, one that went out of business shortly after pressing his records. You certainly can't fault the quality of his music for any lack of fame; the songs on this CD are all first-rate compositions and Whitehead's performance is powerful and passionate. Perhaps Whitehead's vocals lack the power of Otis Redding or the sweetness of Al Green, but they are expressive in their own way, reminding me a bit of Z.Z. Hill or even Swamp Dogg himself. He has a funky, sassy southern soul style that I find very pleasing.
Swamp Dogg (aka Jerry Williams) wrote, or co-wrote, almost all the songs on that are featured on this CD, except for covers of Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and Wilson Pickett's "This Old Town," and a tune by Clarence Reid (the great Miami musician who also recorded as Blowfly). The first 11 tracks are from 1970's Raw Spitt album. with the other material from sessions recorded from 1971-73. There are some many great songs, my favorites being "Raw Spitt" (yes, in addition to being the name of the artist and the album, it was also the name of one of the songs), "Midnight Rider", "Who Do They Think They Are" --- all from the Raw Spitt album --- and a smokin' jam called "Let's Do It Again Parts 3 & 4, the track that closes this collection. I also love some of the instrumental jams on here, credited to Charlie Whitehead & the Swamp Dogg Band. Among those tracks are "Shaft's Mama" and "The B.B. King." Yep, that old Swamp Dogg sense of humor surfaces again!
I can't heap enough praise on this CD. Whitehead's music is an amazing discovery, and once again Kent and Ace have done a superb job with the reissue package. The CD has over 70 minutes of music on it and the booklet that comes with the CD is packed with information about Charlie Whitehead and reproductions of old record sleeves. Yet another truly great recording artist who did not get the breaks he deserved. But this CD deserves the attention of any fan of 70s soul music.