This one has spent a lot of time on the turntable this week. The unmistakable sound of Muscle Shoals, this 45 represents 50% of Chuck & Mariann Coopers’ recorded output, this being one of two 45s they had released on A-Bet in 1968. Both 45s feature the duo on one side and Mariann solo on the other.
Through an excellent article on Mary that appeared in the Oxford American a few years ago I have learnt that Chuck & Mariann were husband and wife for a time, and that Mariann is actually one Mary Gresham. The OA is, at least in part, what could be termed a literary journal and consequently the article’s prose may come over as a little flowery at times, but it nevertheless provides much detail on Mary’s life and musical career. It is always especially satisfying to put some meat on the bones of an obscure record and artist and I recommend you follow the link to it.
Motivation in particular is a stormer of a record, laid down at FAME I believe. Rick Hall liked to turn the volume up on his recordings and this one is certainly a loud pressing.
Mary, like Candi Staton, was born in Alabama, and in the same year too. I’m guessing Candi was on the FAME scene by the time Mary walked in for her sessions. Who knows what might have been if she had turned up a few months earlier?
Now I need to go and track down the other Chuck & Mariann 45.
Make sure the kitchen chairs are tucked away before you play this one!...
Mariann – Motivation 1969
A CD of Mary Gresham’s Muscle Shoals recordings, much of it previously unreleased, is available now thanks to Garry Cape at Soulscape.