Chuck Jackson sadly passed away on 16th February, we look back at his career.
No artist has had more releases or titles issued on Kent records than Chuck Jackson. The first compilation was “Mr Emotion” Kent 033, issued in 1984. The sleevenotes were by Randy Cozens, who had done more than anyone to promote Chuck’s music since hearing it in London’s mod clubs in the 60s. Those great Wand recordings had been largely forgotten about by the 80s and this Kent LP, along with individual tracks featuring on compilations like “Club Soul”, put the recordings back in the spotlight, earning him a new generation of fans across the soul world.
Picking the sixteen tracks from his Wand output was nigh on impossible (we also included his one-off Dakar 45 ‘I Forgot To Tell You’ because of its excellence) due to the incredibly high standards of the Wand recordings. ‘I Keep Forgettin’’, ‘Tell Him I’m Not Home’, ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’, ‘Any Day Now’ and for the dancers ‘Hand It Over’, ‘Good Things’, and ‘Chains Of Love’ were all featured. That left gems like ‘Beg Me’, ‘Who’s Gonna Pick Up The Pieces’, ‘I Don’t Want To Cry’, ‘I Wake Up Crying’ and more to be filtered onto Various Artist compilations.
Not long after the LP’s release I got to visit the Wand tape vaults in Nashville on behalf of Kent. On those reels we found unreleased songs like ‘I’d Be A Millionaire’, ‘Forget About Me’, ‘Castanets’, ‘Little By Little’, ‘What’s With This Loneliness’ and ‘I Can’t Stand To See You Cry’, which gave us cause to issue a second album in 1987 - “A Powerful Soul”.
The 90s saw the switch to CDs and Kent took the opportunity to release all Chuck’s original Wand LPs – two per CD - including his duets with label-mate Maxine Brown. The two Kent solo vinyl LPs were reconfigured into the 24 track CD “Good Things” – essentially his Best Of Wand. That CD saw the first public appearance of ‘What’s With This Loneliness’ which was picked up by modern soul DJs and has proved to be one of the most emotive numbers for many of Chuck’s fans.
Though the Wand-era Jackson had been very well-represented on Kent, some further tape vault discoveries, as late as 2017, turned up more unissued gem. Those included an early duet with Dionne Warwick called ‘Anymore’, a terrific version of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Need To Belong’, the perky ‘Things Just Ain’t Right’ and six other previously unheard tracks. These were combined with alternate versions of ‘Hand It Over’ and ‘Forget About Me’, some mono takes of classic Wand releases that we’d only issued in stereo before and a handful of unreleased (on digital) B sides to form “Big New York Soul” Kent CDKEND 465 in 2017.
Chuck first sang with the Del Vikings vocal group as early as 1957. He had solo releases on Clock (under his real name Charles Jackson), Atco and Beltone shortly before signing to Wand. After his momentous years there, he was signed to Motown, where despite high hopes, he failed to make much of an impression. He did have two decent R&B hits though with ‘Are You Lonely For Me Baby’ and ‘Honey, Come Back’ in 1969. The Dakar one-off failed to sell and he was next to record for ABC. They managed to get him back in the charts with the superb dance track ‘I Only Get This Feeling’ and again with ‘I Can’t Break Away’ in 1973. All Platinum had some success with ‘I’m Needing You, Wanting You’ in 1975, but it was the release of their LP track ‘I’ve Got The Need’ that created a dancefloor smash in the UK; among Northern Soul fans in particular.
A reunion with Scepter’s Florence Greenberg (credited as Boss Lady) in 1979 at Channel records failed to get ‘When The Fuel Runs Out’ into the R&B charts but ‘I Wanna Give You Some Love’ for EMI America the following year did chart; his final entry.
There was a single on Sugar Hill in 1981 and then nothing until 1989 when UK producer Ian Levine got him back into the studios. That final vinyl number was a memorable one - ‘All Over The World’ - a soulful disco number that was widely admired and saw good sales. 1997 saw a duet with his old stablemate Dionne Warwick for the CD single ‘If I Let Myself Go’ for Wave Entertainment. They also released the solo ‘What Goes Round Comes Around’ on Chuck.
Throughout his career Chuck worked hard with his acclaimed live appearances and he continued to sing in great voice up until quite recently. He got a terrific reception at the Great Yarmouth soul weekender in 1990 and appeared around Europe on several occasions afterwards - as well as being in constant demand in his home country. I caught him at Nick Ashford and Val Simpson’s Sugar Bar nightclub in New York when I was accompanied by his sometime singing partner Maxine Brown – a truly memorable evening. Chuck’s voice was as magnificent as on the records we have cherished for decades and which have had such an impact on soul fan’s lives.