I spent an hour listening to Ella Washington on Deezer through my Sonos the other evening. To be honest I was surprised to find Ella on Deezer, but a number of her compliation CDs are there. In fact I have been consistently amazed at what I have found to be available on Deezer since I activated my free subscription at the beginning of the year.
One of her tracks that really grabbed me during that enjoyable hour was I’m Losing The Feeling, a song better known performed by Gwen McCrae. This went unreleased at the time. It is obviously a demo, and benefits from that I think, the recording is understated and beautiful for it.
Now, what prompted me to suddenly go looking for Ella? Ah, I remember, Mr Finewine played one of her earliest records – The Grass Is Always Greener… - on Downtown Soulville recently. It is one of her 45s I don’t have, but hearing it prompted me to bump up its priority on my wants list. Deep Miami soul - Ella putting giving us a really polished vocal (taking Betty Wright's territory!), Little Beaver on guitar, and just listen to those haunting horns. I have overlooked this record too long.
I was feverishly acquiring Ella’s 45s a few years ago. Now I realise the last time I featured one of them here was back in 2008. That’s longer ago than I thought, and I’m not sure I have listened to any of those 45s in the ensuing years. Silly boy! It was good to give her some air time again. My music consumption habits have been increasingly all over the map lately, listening to Ella Washington was like coming home and made me realise that Southern Soul is really still where it’s at for me.
Ella has a fine voice that should be heard more. Nearly all her recordings were made within that golden age for soul music ('66-'72 in this case) and capture the classic Southern Soul sound – those horns, those guitars, those churchy background vocals: heaven.
I dug out my Ella Washington 45s and picked this one to share today. It also features the song's writer - Bobby Womack - on guitar.
*Originally issued in 1967 it made another appearance as the B side to Trying To Make You Love Me in 1970.
You can read more about Ella Washington at Sir Shambling's place (of course you can).
This looks like a good CD compilation.