What would soul music have been like if Sam Cooke hadn’t lived? It wasn’t just that he was a huge star in the black community or that he was a pioneering music business entrepreneur but rather that he left an enormous vocal legacy. Nobody quite had Sam’s smoothness or timbre – although Louis Williams of the Ovations came closest to being a Cooke clone – but so many great singers like Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, Willie Hightower, Clay Hammond, Hoagy Lands and Bobby Harris were indelibly influenced by him. And of course there were a host of lesser names who were strongly touched by him as well, among them George Freeman.
Like Cooke Freeman recorded on the West Coast and although his early 45 were rather too poppy for my taste, in the later 60s he recorded several 45s that really ought to be better appreciated. The first of these was I’m Like A Fish released on Shout. With a structure reminiscent of “A Change Is Gonna Come” this super deep ballad was the first disc that George really sang hard on. Love the subdued horns and the organ/piano combination in the arrangement by the great Rene Hall.
After a gap of some three years Geroge was back for his best series of discs. The lively “You Lied I Cried Love Died” makes great listening, and the rather sing-a-long “All Right Now” and “Stop Now” are good too. But the cream cut of the sessions was the superb My Darling My Darling. Freeman’s phrasing and tone, especially in the first verse and the choruses, are quite outstanding. Hall’s sanctified setting only emphasises the quiet power of this great tune.
Sadly what appears to have been Freeman’s last 45 on Kool wasn’t up to the standard he had set with his previous releases.
Sugar lips / I told you so ~ GARDENA 129 (1962)
Let's go let's go let's go / I can remember ~ BAYTOWN 207 (1962)
Come on and tell here / Hully gully ~ BAYTOWN 207 (1962)
You guessed it / Come to me ~ VALIANT 6035 (1963)
Down and out / The quiver ~ VALIANT 6039 (1963)
You're guilty / One last dance ~ VALIANT 6057 (1964)
Why are you doing this to me / I'm like a fish ~ SHOUT 201 (1966)
All right now / You lied, I cried, love died ~ OKEH 7333 (1969)
Darling, be home soon / My darling, my darling ~ EPIC 10583 (1969)
I'll be long gone (make my life shine) / Stop now (there's still time) ~ EPIC 10668 (1970)
The moment you came into my life / I'm you dancing man ~ KOOL 100 (early 70s)