Charles Wilson (21st Century)

Daddy B. Nice's #34 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Charles Wilson (21st Century) by Daddy B. Nice
 



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"Mississippi Boy"

Charles Wilson (21st Century)



September 5, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Sweet & Sour Loving" on YouTube.

Sample/Buy Charles Wilson's new SWEET & SOUR BLUES at Blues Critic.

Even more than Wilson’s superb 2003 Delmark CD, If Heartaches Were Nickels, this is a straight blues album, with a nice balance of shuffles, grinds and slow blues broken only by the funky beat of Hard to Teach, Hard to Learn. The backing’s from a real band throughout, with a full horn section and Haddix’s crackling guitar leads at times recalling Uncle Milton’s. Haddix’s biggest contribution, however, is the disc’s 11 songs, as he proves that his knack for a good lyric extends beyond the risqué humor for which he’s best known.... I don’t expect to hear a more satisfying blues album this year.

(From the complimentary review by Jim DeKoster in LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE'S AUGUST 2015 issue.


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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

March 31, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Sample/Buy Charles Wilson's new BEST OF ME CD at iTunes.

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January 4, 2015: NEW SINGLE ALERT!

See Daddy B. Nice's #3-ranked Southern Soul Single for January 2014:

"Mississippi Boy Part 2" by Charles Wilson featuring J-Wonn.


...from the upcoming album:

BEST SIDE OF ME.

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Note: Charles Wilson also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Charles Wilson's name in the headline is to distinguish his artist-guide entries on this page from his artist-guide page on Daddy B. Nice's original chart. Readers primarily interested in "Mississippi Boy" should go directly to that guide, or to Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Will T.

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To automatically link to Charles Wilson's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations and references on the website, go to "Wilson, Charles" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

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Daddy B. Nice's 21st Century Artist Guide to Charles Wilson



(To read Daddy B. Nice's original artist guide to Charles Wilson focusing on "Mississippi Boy," click here.)

He covered "Good Thing Man" by Frank Lucas, "Part Time Lover, Full Time Fool" by Jimmy Lewis, "Mississippi Boy" by Will T., "Plumber Man" by James Smith, and even "Is This Love?" by Bob Marley.

Now he's covered the old Joe Simon standard "Get Down, Get Down" to spectacular effect.

Along with Willie Clayton, Shirley Brown and Denise LaSalle (and in earlier years, Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis), this artist is one of Southern Soul's premier interpreters of contemporary soul material.

He possesses a honey-tinged tenor accessorized with seasoned soul-singer techniques--impeccable phrasing, occasional (and rare in soul music) vibrato and perfect pitch.

He's a chameleon, changing guises from album to album and era to era, seizing upon the latest trends and trying to capitalize upon them.

And yet, he's never had an undisputed hit single--one, that is, that wasn't also associated with a prior performer--unless one counts the little-known but solid singles from his Ecko days in the late 90's: "In The Room Next To The Room" and "It's Sweet On The Back Street."

And now, in his latest decade of continuous musical activity, he is confused with and usually overlooked in favor of a brilliant new soul singer with a slightly different name and no shortage of hit singles: Charlie Wilson of "My Name Is Charlie (Last Name Wilson)" and "There Goes My Baby."

He is Charles Wilson.

If Wilson has any flaw as a singer that would explain his lack of high-profile singles, it is arguably his lack of power and immediacy, ingredients that have catapulted less-talented singers (Marvin Sease, for instance) to chitlin' circuit stardom.

Both Wilson and Willie Clayton began as proteges of Al Green--or, more accurately the smouldering slow side of the Stax/Hi catalog, also Syl Johnson--and their emphasis on technique to this day is part of that legacy. So is their emphasis on ballads, although it's safe to say that it was Green's uptempo tunes that made him a star.

Wilson brings a finesse and softer touch to his delivery that is more typical of jazz-singers than soul singers. One can't imagine him releasing a raw, in-your-face single like Grady Champion's 2011 surprise single, "Make That Monkey Jump," for example.

Or rather, one couldn't until the arrival of Charles Wilson's latest bid for a hit single, "Get Down" (Gaucho/Brittney, 2011).

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Get Down" on YouTube while you read.

This Mel Waiters-produced tune sounds right out of the Sam & Dave--or Kool & The Gang--catalog of accessibility, and Wilson sounds exhilarated. He even uses a vocally-enhanced flourish on certain notes--not because he has to in order to hide his vocal inadequacies (i.e. Bigg Robb)--but because the technique turns up the intensity.

The backbone of the song is a killer bass line that's been used many times before but never more efficaciously than here. The lyrics are as simple and blunt as the rhythm track. The song features a line-by-line back-and-forth between Wilson's lead vocal and a background chorus (which sounds like Wilson partnering with Waiters).

Wilson: "Everybodyyyyyyy...
Get out on the floor."

Chorus: "Get out on the floor
And let your body roll."

Wilson: "We're going to party hardy
'Till it's time to go."

Chorus: "Get out on the floor
And let your body roll."

Wilson & Background Chorus:
"Come on and get down
Get downnnnnn."

Hand-claps and a staccato snare drum do the rest.

Surely one of the simplest tunes he has ever recorded, "Get Down" nevertheless showcases Wilson's sugary tenor to optimum effect. "Get Down" brings Charles Wilson full circle, back to the early Southern Soul of "It's Sweet On The Back Street" and "In The Room Next To The Room" and "Two Steps Behind."

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Two Steps Behind" on YouTube while you read.

Play them back to back and you get a vision of what Charles Wilson's career might have been like in an alternate reality: one focused on uptempo dance tunes with powerful backing tracks over which Wilson's wispy tenor circles in carefree glory.

Wilson's always hard-working career has taken an even more aggressive turn since leaving Ecko. At CDS he's experimented with new songwriters and producers (Carl Marshall, Simeo Overall) and collaborated with the best male artists of his generation, Mel Waiters and Willie Clayton.

The quality of the new recordings--Wilson's vocals, the instrumentals, and the mixing of the two--is technically superior to the early work, but something has been lost, too. The songs are often more mechanical than soulful.

Wilson began to put a renewed hint of soulfulness into the experimentation with Carl Marshall on "You've Got That Sex Appeal" and he did even better in the soul department with Waiters on "Something Different About You," the latter in particular a bare-bones version of mid-tempo Al Green. With a vintage Stax rhythm section, it would have been a track to remember.

That's why "Get Down" has been such a pleasant surprise. For once in his career, everything is perfect. A clarion-call of a vocal. A smashing background, including a great bass. The song may be a bit repetitive (what dance floor jam isn't?), but it's also effortless and buoyant and indisputably feel-good. (And, it should be noted, produced by Mel Waiters at Brittney Records.)

"Get Down" is hands-down a better song than either "In The Room Next To The Room" or "It's Sweet On the Back Street," and it would be interesting to see Wilson attack those songs of yesteryear (or songs like them) anew with the fresh, hi-def clarity, confidence and compression of "Get Down."

To survey so few Charles Wilson songs (Wilson has recorded over a hundred) would be unrepresentative in any other than a hit single context. "Get Down" (whose time may already have come and gone) may not be that magical tune that'll make Charles Wilson bigger than Charlie Wilson, but it certainly points in a potent direction.

Please consult "Recommended Tracks" in the right-hand column of this page, wherein Charles Wilson rates an inordinately large number of five and four-star tracks. Wilson has had a long, varied and artistically satisfying career, even if it has been lived largely out of the limelight.

To read more about Charles Wilson's past and often controversial career, go to Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Charles Wilson.

Charles Wilson on I-Tunes.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Charles Wilson (21st Century)

Charles Wilson was born in Chicago in 1957. A child prodigy and nephew of Little Milton Campbell, Wilson was already performing and recording in the Windy City before he was old enough to shave. His first national exposure came touring with Bobby Rush, and opening gigs with Bobby "Blue" Bland, Otis Clay, Tyrone Davis and others solidified his R&B credentials.

Wilson's career faltered as R&B was eclipsed by disco and funk in the 70's and 80's, but Atlanta-based Ichiban Records resuscitated Wilson's commercial prospects in 1991 with the release of Blues In The Key of C. The album, on which Little Milton played guitar, was well-received in chitlin' circuit markets.

Wilson took another artistic step when he moved to Ecko Records in the mid-nineties. It's Sweet On The Back Street (1995) featured Southern Soul-style material such as "In The Room Next To The Room" and "It's Sweet On The Backstreet," and also straight blues such as "Fannie Mae," setting up a southern-soul-to-blues template (with a little "urban R&B" thrown in from time to time) that Wilson would use on a series of subsequent Ecko discs.

The John Ward-penned "Keep It A Secret" (from 99's It Ain't The Size CD) was a minor chitlin' circuit hit, as was "I'll Be Your Lover" (from 00's Mr. Freak CD). "Why Don't We Get Together," "Hoochie Booty," and "Let's Stomp," also from Mr. Freak, showed Wilson's Southern Soul style maturing. Goin' Jukin' was recorded for Ecko in 2001.

However, eager for a change, Wilson moved to Greenville, Mississippi and started his own record company in 2001, recording CD's under his own name and also signing and recording other artists.

Ecko Records released The Best Of Charles Wilson in 2006. The compilation contains "In The Room Next To The Room," "It's Sweet On The Back Street" and other Ecko Records hits, including the overlooked "Two Steps Behind," which had been made into a chitlin' circuit hit by Memphis performer Jerry L.

Wilson seized upon a number of songs by other performers and writers in the mid to late 00's in a bid to score a hit single, including "Plumber Man" by James Smith and "Mississippi Boy" by Will T. None caused as much controversy as "Mississippi Boy," which writer Floyd Hamberlin Jr. protested had been appropriated without proper acknowledgement.

Denise LaSalle realized the most popular cover of the song under the title "Mississippi Woman". (See Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Charles Wilson for in-depth coverage of "Mississippi Boy.") Both songs, "Mississippi Boy" and "Plumber Man," were featured in the CDS-produced The After Party album in 2007.

The Pay Myself First CD (CDS, 2009) continued Wilson's collaboration with the CDS-affiliated writer/producers Simeo Overall and Carl Marshall, branching out from mainstream Southern Soul into more urban-sounding music exemplified by the title tune and the single "You Got That Sex Appeal."

Wilson continued to explore more urban-sounding soul on the CDS-published That Girl Belongs To Me, which featured collaborations with Mel Waiters ("Something Different About You" and "Sex Appeal (Remix)"), Willie Clayton ("That Girl Belongs To Me") and Carl Marshall.

The single "Get Down," published by Brittney Records (Mel Waiters' label), was released in 2011.


Charles Wilson Discography


Blues In The Key Of C (Ichiban 1991)

It's Sweet On The Backstreet (Ecko 1995)

Why? (Traction 1997)

Love Seat" (Ecko 1998)

It Ain't The Size (Ecko 1999)

Mr. Freak (Ecko 2000)

Goin' Jookin (Ecko 2001)

Songs From The Vault (Wilson 2001)

You Got To Pay To Play (Wilson 2002)

If Heartaches Were Nickels (Delmark 2004)

If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It (Delta Ent. 2005)

Sexual Healing (Hitmakers USA 2006)

The Best Of Charles Wilson (Ecko 2006)

The After Party (Deluxe) (CDS 2007)

Pay Myself First (CDS 2009)

Troubled Child (Severn 2009)

That Girl Belongs To Me (CDS 2010)

Think About What You Got (CDS 2012)

2 On 1: Pay Myself First & That Girl Belongs To Me (CDS 2014)



To shop for all of Charles Wilson's albums, go to "Wilson, Charles" in Daddy B. Nice's Bargain CD Store.


Tidbits

1.

June 30, 2012: YouTube selections for Charles Wilson:



Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Get Down" on YouTube.

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Love Seat" on YouTube.

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Goin' Back To Cheatin'" on YouTube.

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Two Steps Behind" on YouTube.

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "In The Room Next To The Room" on YouTube.

Listen to Charles Wilson singing "Is This Love" on YouTube.

Listen to Charles Wilson (joined by Willie Clayton and Mel Waiters) singing a medley of songs from the album THAT GIRL BELONGS TO ME on YouTube.

2.



October 21, 2012: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Sample or Buy Charles Wilson's new THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU GOT CD.

Listen to a medley of samples from Charles Wilson's Think About What You Got CD on YouTube.

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Honorary "B" Side

"Get Down"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Mississippi Boy by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Mississippi Boy


CD: The After Party
Label: Deluxe/CDS

Sample or Buy
The After Party


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Get Down by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Get Down


CD: "Get Down" Single
Label: Gaucho/Brittney

Sample or Buy
"Get Down" Single


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Good Thing Man by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Good Thing Man


CD: Songs From The Vault
Label: Wilson

Sample or Buy
Songs From The Vault


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy It's Sweet On The Back Street by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
It's Sweet On The Back Street


CD: It's Sweet On The Back Street
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Best Of Charles Wilson


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Plumber Man by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Plumber Man


CD: The After Party
Label: Deluxe/ CDS

Sample or Buy
The After Party


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Check Yourself by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Check Yourself


CD: Sexual Healing
Label: Hitmakers USA

Sample or Buy
Sexual Healing


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy In The Room Next To The Room by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
In The Room Next To The Room


CD: The Best Of Charles Wilson
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Best Of Charles Wilson


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Sexual Healing by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Sexual Healing


CD: Sexual Healing

Sample or Buy
Sexual Healing.


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Something Different About You  (w/ Mel Waiters)    by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Something Different About You (w/ Mel Waiters)


CD: That Girl Belongs To Me
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
That Girl Belongs To Me


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Two Steps Behind by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Two Steps Behind


CD: The Best Of Charles Wilson
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Best Of Charles Wilson


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Is This Love? by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Is This Love?


CD: Troubled Child
Label: Severn

Sample or Buy
Troubled Child


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy That Girl Belongs To Me by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
That Girl Belongs To Me


CD: That Girl Belongs To Me
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
That Girl Belongs To Me


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Think About What You Got by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
Think About What You Got


CD: Think About What You Got
Label: Cirque Du Soleil

Sample or Buy
Think About What You Got


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy You Got That Sex Appeal by Charles Wilson (21st Century)
You Got That Sex Appeal


CD: Pay Myself First
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Pay Myself First


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