He was Alexander the Great but he should have been Greater,
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This review is from: Get a Shot of Rhythm and Blues: The Arthur Alexander Story (Paperback)
Back in 1962 I bought a London 45 rpm record of Arthur Alexander singing You Better Move On ,his melancholic voice stood out from the other R&B/Soul singers that I had collected and I wanted to find out more about him.Further recordings followed and slowly I built up my collection but not my knowledge of this low key hero.Over the years I managed to glean some facts about Arthur from magazine articles and then from sources on the internet .
No one I ever spoke to who had a passing interest in American music had ever heard of him but sadly they knew his songs from the mainly weak cover versions regularly pushed out by British beat groups.This seems to be the same state of play today. Everyone knows Anna[Go to him] by the Beatles but Arthur's original seems to draw a blank.
Fans of Southern Country Soul though revere him highly ,his voice being unmatched for displaying loneliness and despair .
Because of the fact that he didn't even seem to make the scale with regard to his fame I never expected any one would write a biography about him but Richard Younger did just that and the story he tells of Arthur's life like his voice is a rather sad one
Arthur grew up listening to records by Brook Benton , Percy Mayfield and Clyde McPhatter along with many other Black singers of the day but also into his listening conciousness he was taking in the White country sounds of the likes of Eddy Arnold and other Opry stars .When he finally got to record his second disc produced by Rick Hall,You better Move On ,it was rejected by nearly all the major companies ,too black ,too country even Chet Atkins who knew a good song when he heard it turned it down.Eventually the song was released on the Dot label in December 1961.
There then followed a slew of superb records ,with some of them written by Arthur but real success seemed to elude him and Arthur by this time was showing distinct signs of having drug ,drink and varying mental problems.
Dropped by Dot and unable to move his career forward his manager Noel Ball had not only trouble with Arthur but was suffering with Cancer himself but help was offered to Arthur from Fred Foster who had founded the Monument label and had done so much to advance the career of Roy Orbison .Foster was despairing though as no hits followed over a period of four years.
Arthur made records for a few more companies before dropping out of the business altogether again he seemed to hit a downhill spiral , arrested for vagrancy ,drug busts and bizarre behaviour that had him residing from time to time in mental institutions.Who could have perceived that a great songwriter and country soul singer would end up driving a school bus .
His song writing ability was recognised by the Beatles ,Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan who among many recorded Arthurs songs but here again he seemed to lose out ,not always getting the royalties he was due and with his lack of business knowledge coupled with his some what happy go lucky mental state disaster was never far away .Another terrible event befalling him was his son getting shot dead which again set him back .
To cut a well told story short Arthur after many years did get the chance to launch a comeback and record again but as usual his luck ran out and after feeling unwell in Nashville he passed away on 9th June 1993 he was only fifty three.
It is unlikely any one else will write another book about Arthur and there is probably no need for one anyway ,the author has done a really good job giving all the information that is probably available .I have read the book twice and feel that as Arthur's records will live on, this book will also help at last bring the name Arthur Alexander the king of country soul to the fore in the history of American music.