Howard Tate – The Truly Legendary Verve Sessions – Hip-O Select/Verve Limited Edition

by | Aug 15, 2005 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Howard Tate  –  The Truly Legendary Verve Sessions –
Hip-O Select/Verve Limited Edition B0002210-02 ( Mail Order Only),
74:57  *****:

It’s really not that often when a consumer encounters actual truth in
marketing.  This piece concerns a situation in which the promises
are not only met, but far exceeded.  Anybody even pretending to
possess a decent collection of soul music will own the basic
requirements: (Temptations, Four Tops, Miracles, Supremes, Delfonics,
Stylistics, Dells,  James Brown, Al Green, Wilson Pickett, Marvin
Gaye, Otis Redding, Junior Walker, Aretha Franklin, etc).  It is
the true connoisseur, however, whose collection includes such acts as
the Mad Lads, Dyke & The Blazers, Moments, Brenda & The
Tabulations and their ilk.  These acts and maybe a dozen others
are the true gems of the genre.  Along this line – one of the most
definitive and exhaustive releases in soul music history addresses one
of the most unique and emotive voices of our times.  It belongs to
“The Great” Howard Tate.  Mr. Tate is to Jackie Wilson as Sonny
Stitt was to Charlie Parker in jazz- the individual who rose up as the
standard bearer to continue the legacy.  Between 1966 & 1968
the combination of Tate and producer Jerry Ragovoy created perhaps the
best treasure trove of R&B tracks ever.  Now listeners have
the opportunity to hear it all – every bit laid down by the twosome
before Mr. Tate just disappeared from view, while at the same time
entering into music lore.

The release in question is ” Get It While You Can – The Complete
Legendary Verve Sessions “.  It presents 74 minutes and 57 seconds
of a gift from the gods.  It was the perfect melding of Ragovoy
arrangements with the profound vision to enlist a young and unknown
fellow Philadelphian to handle the vocals.  Ragovoy utilized
studio rhythm players such as Eric Gale, Richard Tee, Herbie Lavelle
and Paul Griffin for the sessions, who were supplemented by
horns.   The cuts were done live with minimal overdubs. 
When you have the “goods”, this is certainly the way to go. 
Heaven on earth – yeah, that’s it – these guys created heaven on
earth.  Now music appreciaters can enter this heaven – 29 tracks
worth of the ultimate R&B experience.

But as is so often the case, something occurs to temper the good
news.  Here, it is the fact that this monumental release is
limited to 5000 copies.  It’s a Limited Edition production run
with each disc stamped with its own number.  I suppose the
luckiest person in the world will be the one who ends up with disc #
5000.  (Imagine ordering just one minute after they’re all sold
out).  The package cannot be found in stores, it must be special
ordered.  Doing so, of course, is a prerequisite to a fulfilled
life.  I simply can’t imagine my music listening existence without
it.  I would be a sham, a total poser with a black hole in my
music library.  No, any serious R&B collector must own Howard
Tate.  If not, then there just “ain’t nobody home”.

The original LP was issued on Verve Records in April of 1967.  It
contained the following tracks :  ” Ain’t Nobody Home / Part Time
Love / Glad I Knew Better / How Blue Can You Get / Get It While You Can
/ Baby, I Love You / I Learned It All The Hard Way / Everyday I Have
The Blues / How Come My Bulldog Don’t Bark / Look At Granny Run Run
“.  In February of 1969 two additional singles were added to a
reissued LP re-named “Howard Tate”.  These cuts were ” Stop ” and
” Sweet Love Child “. 

So, what we have are the original stereo mixes of 12
masterpieces.  This CD release, however, goes on to add  the
remastered mono mixes of these 12, supplemented by 4 additional singles
from further sessions :  ” Half A Man / Shoot ‘Em All Down / Night
Owl / I’m Your Servant “.  Finally, a bonus cut of ” Give Me Some
Courage ” with the original mix constitutes track 29.

Attempting to describe each tune would be an act of lunacy.  You
simply have to hear them to believe it.  How the Tate/Ragovoy team
was able to pack so much into each 2 to 3 minute product is one of the
true marvels of the universe.  The sonic attack was supremely
singular.  How can one do justice when trying to describe such a
majestic concoction of gospel/R&B/soul/horn
charts/storytelling/wailing/breaking of vocal range barriers/perfect
phrasing/sublime arrangements and so much more?  One can’t so I
won’t, other than to say that the addition of about 50 or so further
descriptive words to the preceeding list might come about as close as
you can get.

In case a reader failed to notice my rather clever inclusion of a song
title in paragraph 3, this piece will end with a similar use of a song
title to convey a final point.  It must be remembered that this
stupendous package is indeed part of a Limited Edition of 5000
copies.  I’m sure astute readers know what’s coming next : “GET IT
WHILE YOU CAN !”

– Birney K. Brown
 

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