I love my soul served up with a Southern flavour and as Southern Soul hasn’t been on the menu for a while here I thought it was high time I put that right. (Hey, I’m starting to sound like FuFu Stew!)
Willie Mitchell and the Hi crowd developed their own unique sound in the Seventies. Some people may say that it was only about Al Green and, perhaps, Ann Peebles, that the songs could sound derivative, and condemn tracks recorded by other artists on the label as essentially no more than Al Green cast offs. I think that’s unfair and I certainly don’t subscribe to that view.
Darryl Carter is a name you may not be familiar with. You can find a picture of him here. His musical career had begun as a recording engineer in the 60s. As the 60s ended and the 70s began he would forge a writing partnership with Bobby Womack, and record, solo, a handful of singles with labels including Venture, Perception, and TTC. At Hi “Looking Straight Ahead” would appear to be his only outing. In the main however, it would appear has was essentially a “backroom” man as engineer, producer and writer
We can often pinpoint a time in the past and what we were doing by recalling a hit, or popular, record of the time. So I will refer back to Al and Ann to place Darryl Carter’s Hi single in time, and understand I’m not belittling Darryl Carter’s single by doing this. “Looking Straight Ahead” was nine singles later than Al Green’s “Call Me” and four before Ann Peebles “I Can’t Stand The Rain” in the Hi catalog.
I certainly wouldn’t have been aware of this single’s existence at the time. In the UK London released a fair number of singles from the Hi catalog, but didn’t often venture beyond the big names. I haven’t tracked down a UK London discography, but I’m sure Darryl wouldn’t have appeared. I found a low rate mp3 of this track on a Japanese site some months ago and liked it – a lot. So it was that I subsequently secured my own copy via some edigging. And so it is that the wonderful sound of Hi soul continues to make the heart skip a beat today.
You can find this track on a number of Hi compilation CDs.