The unique vocal artistry of Little Jimmy Scott is underrated because his penetrating almost feminine vocal timbre fits neither jazz or a pop-angled milieu, so falling between the two, his wide vibrato and distinctive phrasing makes is so original, it’s impossible not to sit up and listen to his emotional delivery of ballads even when the orchestral backings lack contrast.
Jasmine’s two-disc forty-six song anthology mainly concentrates on three superb albums of which FALLING IN LOVE IS WONDERFUL, produced by Ray Charles in 1962, proves to be the high-spot of anything Jimmy ever recorded. Deeply soulful versions of I WISH I DIDN’T LOVE YOU SO, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS and THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL are amongst the album’s ten selections. Not that the remainder of this collection is anything less than superb, with Jimmy’s very first album VERY TRULY YOURS, released in 1955, offering STREET OF DREAMS, WHEN DID YOU LEAVE HEAVEN? and TIME ON MY HANDS. In 1960, THE FABULOUS SONGS OF JIMMY SCOTT brought forth SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS CHILD, IF YOU ARE BUT A DREAM, THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT and a remake of Jimmy’s only hit EVERYBODY’S SOMEBODY’S FOOL which established him when he was a singer with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra.
Like the album tracks, the remaining choices cover the period 1950-1962 and remain true to the singer’s vocal individuality with I WISH I KNEW, WHY WAS I BORN? and the rueful YOU NEVER MISS THE WATER ‘TIL THE WELL RUNS DRY amongst the choices with Kay Starr’s Fifties hit WHEEL OF FORTUNE receiving an outstanding cover by Jimmy.
Album tracks are indicated in the excellent liner notes with excellent remastering making this collection a very acceptable tribute to the singer.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of 10 children, Scott - along with a brother - was blighted with Kallman's Syndrome. This meant that puberty passed him by and stunted his growth. This resulted in an almost unique singing voice, approaching castrato (not that I know much about castrati!). Over the years, he fronted the Lionel Hampton Orch., the Bill Taylor Orch., and Lucky Thompson's Orch. He cut for Decca, Coral and Brunswick, as well as Savoy and notably, Ray Charles' Tangerine label. Lotsa bad business calls left him with little commercial success, but he was venerated as the "greatest jazz singer America has ever produced" (from the liner notes). Glowing testimonials from such as Frankie Valli, Joe Pesci, Marvin Gaye and Nancy Wilson kick off the notes, from compiler Bob Fisher, who here offers a selection from 1950/62.
Whilst admiring his voice, arrangements and backing, the tracks are so dreary and downbeat that I couldn't face more than four or five on the trot. Not helped by the consistently downbeat pace. There are a couple of 'upbeat' numbers, "The Way You Look Tonight" stands out (I forget the other), but neither could be described as finger-snappers. Yes, Mr Scott does enjoy a unique voice, but if I had to play these 50 all the way through, I'd be in need of an industrial dose of Prozac, or I might open a vein. As you might guess, admirable qualities aside, I do NOT like this set, it brings me no joy. There are those among you who will get off on it, and I wish you happy (?) listening.