It’s been a real pleasure to have been the architect of Kent’s four volume Luther Ingram reissue programme. Luther has always been one of my favourites, and it’s a shame that he has seldom received the kind of accolades from the mainstream that his talents as both a singer and a songwriter deserve. His recorded legacy may be relatively small compared to that some some of his peers, but almost all of it is first rate and none of it is less than very good.
We’ve now reached the final instalment in the our reissue of Luther’s Ko Ko catalogue, his final two albums for the label on one CD. The songs were recorded between 1974 and 1976 and both albums were released in the eye of Hurricane Disco. Happily they make little concession to what was occupying soul’s mainstream and instead give southern soul fans more than 75 minutes worth of what we like best. There are treats galore here, from mighty 45s like ‘Let’s Steal Away To The Hideaway’ and ‘Get To Me’ to cherised modern soul movers such as ‘Do You Think There’s A Chance’ and ‘Trying To Find My Love’. There’s also a bonus in the shape of the second version of ‘I’ll Love You Until The End’, which we had to omit from our previous Luther 2 on 1 through lack of space.
Luther Ingram is in the very best voice of his career, and the sympathetic backing of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section frames that great singing and quality songs – many of which are being reissued here for the first time. Even though disco was slowly exerting a stranglehold on southern soul as a chart force, Luther managed to hit with all the singles that were selected from these albums – surely the ultimate testament to their excellence.
It’s hard for me to pick a highlight from this set but if pushed I’d choose the title track from the “Do You Love Somebody” album – a midtempo classic that embodies every positive element of the sophisticated side of southern soul, and one that features one of the most sincere and impassioned of all of Luther’s many great vocal performances.
The music Luther Ingram left behind identifies him as one of the best and most important soul men of his time. These recordings – beautifully remastered from optimum sound sources - will sound as good decades from now as they did when they were first released more than 30 years ago.
By Tony Rounce