Although Joyce Cobb is now one of the most popular and successful entertainers in Memphis, singing a combination of blues and jazz styles as well as breaking out into acting and writing for the stage, it wasn’t like this at the start of her career. During the 70s and early 80s she made a series of 45s in Nashville and Memphis that had some chart action in the dance world, but also had a couple of really strong country soul tracks hidden away on B sides that seem to have been completely forgotten. And it is on those recordings that I’d like to concentrate.
Her first release was for Truth and both sides were melodic Nashville ballads which I like, but neither “He Just Loved You Out Of Me” nor “Lonesome Time In Memphis Town Tonight” were on the right side of the country soul divide for me. Stax were just about finished when the 45 was issued, and the label collapsed shortly afterwards. Joyce moved to Memphis and joined Al Bennett’s Cream label after he had swept up Hi into his musical empire. The first results of this new contract was the African disco rhythm of “Dig The Gold” which earned her a first chart position. The follow up “How Glad I Am” was another chart success but the flip That’s What Love Will Do is a gem of a ballad with Joyce’s subtle, delicately judged vocal giving the song such emotional depth.
I really love the sweet sound of It Really Doesn’t Matter with its lilting Caribbean rhythm and tasteful arrangement. Joyce injects some grittier passages into her usual softer, breathy tone – and the hookline stays with you all day once you’ve heard it. And like so many of the tracks she recorded around this time Joyce was the co-author. As she was on her only solo 45 for Willie Mitchell’s Waylo concern Another Lonely Night (Without You). It’s hard to believe that the Waylo recordings are now getting on for 30 years old – to me they come from just yesterday – so I guess they now qualify for inclusion here and this track is one of the best that appeared. Great melody – super Memphis musicians (esp drummer Steve Potts) and Joyce drawling her way through a sad sad tale.
You can read a lot more about Joyce’s life and career here – including details of her lead vocals for a number of groups – but not much about the music mentioned here. I hope this brief piece redresses the balance a bit.
He just loved you out of me / Lonesome time in Memphis Town tonight ~ TRUTH 3224 (1975)
Dig the gold / Don’t be mad at me ~ CREAM 7939 (1979)
How glad I am / That’s what love will do ~ CREAM 8040 (1980)
Take my heart take my soul / It really doesn’t matter ~ CREAM 8144 (1981)
Another lonely night (without you) / Love can ~ WAYLO 3016 (1988)
With The Michael Jefry Stevens Trio ~ ARCHER 31934 (2010)
Beale St Saturday Night ~ CENTER FOR SOUTHERN FOLKLORE (2013)
Note ~ Only named Joyce Cobb recordings included.