In the story of southern soul the studios of Memphis and Alabama's Muscle Shoals region loom large, effectively overshadowing other musical scenes in the South, including that of Birmingham, Alabama. A leading force in the soul movement there was Neal Hemphill, who set up his Sound of Birmingham production studio in the basement of his plumbing shop in the mid-‘60s and continued recording until a decade later, when health problems led him to sell the operation. A regular at the studio was Sam Frazier, Jr., whose power as a southern soul vocalist is captured here in recordings he made between 1969 and 1971.
The topics of the material range widely, and the interracial harmony theme of "Black and White Love" seems particularly apropos given Frazier's comfort in the worlds of country and blues. The songs collected here demonstrate Frazier's ability to tackle a wide variety of soul styles, though a commonality to his approach is restraint. Some of the songs come from the pens of studio regulars including Ralph "Soul" Jackson (both "Take Me Back" and "Set Me Free") and guitarist/producer Jerry Weaver.
"I'm not a shouter, you've got to sing with feeling," explains Frazier, who expresses his admiration for Joe Simon, Bobby Womack, Arthur Alexander and Bobby "Blue" Bland, whose 1959 hit "I'll Take Care of You" he also tackles herein. All those artists recorded in the country-soul subgenre, which Frazier contributes to here via "Low Down and Loneliness," the dobro-flavored "Mama Said She Ain't Here," and "I Got to Tell Someone." Frazier says that he still enjoys the songs collected here, and hopes that this release will result in the attention they deserved the first time around.