In de ruim vijftien jaar Hank Ballard bij King doorbracht, zijn
de jaren die deze compilatie bestrijkt het minst belicht. Het waren dan
inderdaad ook geen echte succes jaren, maar Unwind Yourself is
desondanks een zeer welkom overzicht. Tijdens de ijzersterke start met
onweerstaanbare tracks als Let's Get The Show On The Road en That's Your
Mistake, weerklinken eigenlijk echte krakers. Even verderop horen we
het rauwe gitaarwerk van Lonnie Mack op het al even swingende Get That
Hump In Your Back en komen op het einde van de cd de bemoeienissen van
James Brown aan het licht.
The R&B star’s surviving 1964-67 King recordings, reissued in their entirety for the first time.
“Unwind Yourself” focuses on the period in Hank Ballard’s long career
that has remained relatively under the radar in the CD era. It features
every surviving record he made between early 1964 and late 1967, a
period during which soul took over from R&B and his King label-mate
James Brown spearheaded the funk revolution. Ballard made every effort
to remain up-to-date but struggled to get his records heard by a wide
audience. Whatever reasons DJs might have had for ignoring them, it
surely was not the quality of the records or Ballard’s performances,
which are first-rate throughout.
While this collection is aimed primarily at soul and funk fans, there
are lots of choice R&B cuts to grab the attention of those who enjoy
music of an earlier vintage. The vast majority of the tracks here have
never been reissued. All but three are presented in the straight-ahead
mono sound of the original King singles and albums. The remaining three
are heard in genuine stereo (rather than pesky 2-track, with vocals on
one channel and everything else on the other). Featured musicians
include Lonnie Mack, Beau Dollar and a host of other Cincinnati
notables, not to mention James Brown himself. The CD booklet offers a
vast array of original labels, album sleeves and beautiful period
photos, some of which have never been seen before.
The loose chronology of the track listing enables the listener to hear
how capably Ballard moved with the times, and what a pity it was he
didn’t find a newer, younger audience to enjoy these selections in the
way earlier fans had relished ‘The Twist’ and ‘Work With Me Annie’.
||: Corné Ooijman