Something for the weekend, sir? Mmm, some southern soul please.
Here are two tracks from Barbara Lynn’s Atlantic years. "You’re Losing Me" has a light almost pop feel it and is insanely catchy. But what hooked me more than anything though, on first hearing, was the way Barbara semi sings-semi speaks a single word: ‘disgusted’. For me that was reason enough to buy this record. It drove me on to have one of those ebay moments where you get caught up in the chase and end up paying just a little bit more than you intended. In the end I paid what I guess is near the going rate from a dealer, so nothing stupid but not a bargain, or so I thought. On getting the record though, and playing the B side "Why Can’t You Love Me", I think perhaps I got a bargain after all. Pure southern soul, every bit as good as the A side so, effectively, two records for the price of one.
Barbara was born Barbara Lynn Ozen in Texas in 1942. Signed to the Jamie label she enjoyed her first hit in 1962 with "You’ll Lose A Good Thing", and more followed. The hits had dried up by the end of 1965 though and, after a brief spell at the Tribe label, Barbara signed with Atlantic in 1967. Her stay at Atlantic lasted five years but is rather puzzling. In 1968 she released the album "Here Is Barbara Lynn" (available along with other tracks on a now out of print? CD "The Best of Barbara Lynn: The Atlantic Years"). I don’t have this album but looking at the tracklisting it appears to be a strong one as it includes the two tracks featured here; her 1967 hit "This Is The Thanks I Get"; a re-recording of her debut hit; and another strong side "Until Then I’ll Suffer", which finally surfaced as a single in 1971. And that’s the puzzle - after laying down such strong tracks in 1968 her output for Atlantic was precisely zilch for the next three years, and no newly recorded output appeared until 1972. Some interweb trawling reveals that she married at age 28 and has three children, and has stated that she let her music career take a back seat some quality family time. Whether that was the reason for her Atlantic hiatus, which would have started before her marriage, I don’t know. (An aside: as well as having a fine set of pipes Barbara does of course play guitar left handed. So that’s two things I have in common with her, I am also a southpaw, and I also got married when I was 28. My wife is also left handed, and my left handers calendar - an Xmas stocking filler - tells me that means we have something in common with Napoleon & Josephine Bonaparte – you really wanted to know that, I can tell!). After Atlantic, Barbara released a number of singles on Jetstream through the latter half of the 70s. But after that recorded material has been few and far between. She is still active on the music scene though, labelled as a blues artist – but then soul as a genre label seems to have dropped completely off the radar now anyway. A CD "Blues And Soul Situation" was released in 2004 on Dialtone. Listening to the track samplers it seems a pretty good collection, although a number of the tracks are new versions of old material which seem to be a feature of much of her recorded output, even from her earliest days.
You can find a good bio of Barbara, written by Dave Rimmer, which originally appeared in the Soulful Kinda Music fanzine, here.