Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jean Knight – Anyone Can Love Him (Staff)

Jean Knight is, of course, best known for the Stax classic Mr Big Stuff. She was born Jean Caliste in 1943 in Crescent City, New Orleans but changed her name because she thought that people would have trouble pronouncing her last name.

Jean had been performing around New Orleans since her early twenties before being discovered by Huey Meaux and signed to his Tribe and Jet Stream labels. She released a number of singles on these labels throughout the mid-sixties and although these releases were well received within New Orleans none broke through to gain national attention.

Anyone Can Love Him was released in 1966 on Staff, which I believe is a Detroit label that mainly released jazz and gospel (can anyone confirm). It was also released on Tribe, which I would assume that this was the original (local) release but again if anyone can confirm I’d be delighted to hear from you.

The song starts with a rolling guitar line which carries the song and provides most of the rhythm. The sound is very sparse and Jean’s vocals are quite thin and high pitched. Describing it in such a way does the song a great disservice as it has real charm, is very distinctive and after a few listens it really begins to grab you. You can clearly hear the early funk influence of New Orleans in the song without it being an out and out funk track and this song would, therefore, cross over nicely between the soul and funk scenes.

I’ve been playing this record in warm up sets for a couple of years now and it always gets a good reception. This is yet another cheapy and you should have no problems securing a copy for under £10.

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