Wilson Meadows (21st Century)

Daddy B. Nice's #29 ranked Southern Soul Artist



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



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"Still My Love"

Wilson Meadows (21st Century)

Note: Wilson Meadows also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Wilson Meadow'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.

***********

Wilson Meadows seems to fly under the radar. When you look at the body of his work, it's remarkably consistent, and yet his albums pass without getting much appreciation or leaving much of an impression, dissolving into one another.

The albums are of credible quality, and they always feature two or three singles that are distinctive enough to become radio fare. If there's a weakness, it may be a certain sameness, a one-dimensionality, to the vocals, a breathy tenor, but you have to love Meadows for continually coming up with great guitar hooks. And the vocals, if limited technically, never waver in their emotional strength and conviction.

While many of his peers from the 90's and early 00's have either passed (Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis, Lee "Shot" Williams, Little Milton, Ollie Nightingale) or faded (Roy C, Billy Ray Charles, Barbara Carr, The Love Doctor, Robert "The Duke" Tillman), Wilson Meadows has done nothing but churn out new, viable music.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "That's Still My Love" on YouTube while you read.

Meadows' initial claim to fame as a Southern Soul artist resides in his late 90's work and the Memories album (Ichiban 1997) in particular.

"Just Can't Do Without You," "That's Still My Love," "I Promise," "Just Like I Promised," "Let's Cut Out This Game" and "When You're Gettin' My Love"--six of the ten cuts on the collection--qualify as bona fide standards and contemporary Southern Soul "oldies."

The songs from Memories established Wilson Meadows as a musical statesman for romantic love and its attendant problems, and although never heralded as such, the album followed in the great tradition of legendary, song-rich, pop CD's such as The Beatles' Rubber Soul, Van Morrison's Moondance and Carole King's Tapestry.

Meadows was never a full-fledged, slow-jam artist in the mode of Luther Vandross. The love ballads on Memories were less laid-back and more pop-like and frequently mid-tempo vehicles in the mode of Smokey Robinson, Bobby Womack or Johnnie Taylor.

"That's Still My Love," for example, combines an engaging, opening voice-over in the tradition of Latimore with a reference to Tyrone Davis's "Leavin'"--

"Said she had to leave
On the first train smokin,'
But she's back in my arms--
I ain't jokin'."

--wrapping up the track by the usually-perceived-as-minimalist Meadows with a prominent, pop-like, all-but-dueting female background chorus.

Meadows' next two albums (Dealing Real and Choices) were very much follow-up outings in the mode of Memories, and they in turn were succeeded by a Best Of (Bob Grady 2003) collection that summarized the era in Meadows' career.

A couple of passable albums in the mid-00's, Back To Basics and Love Bomb, displayed Meadows searching for an edgier, grittier sound, something in which to reclaim and marinate the clean pop sound of his early work.

Meadows' cover of the sixties girl-group anthem, The Shirelles' "Dedicated To The One I Love" (from Love Bomb) was such a turning point. "She's Gone," from the same album, with its chiming guitar and passionate, ambitious chorus, also signaled a change.

Much of the "clean" sound of "Dedicated" had to do with the man on the lead guitar, Southern Soul star Theodis Ealey, and the collaboration seemed to energize Meadows.

Meadows is also an ace guitarist, and it was really in his next album, Transformation (M&M/Brimstone 2008), that his new, edgier, gritter sound came to fruition.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "It Is What It Is" on MySpace while you read.

If not quite the cornucopia of soul that Memories was, Transformation nevertheless boasted at least four great original songs in "I'm Missing You," "It Is What It Is," "I Wanna Get Witcha Baby" and "Don't Take It Away."

"I'm Missing You," with its pastoral mouth harp, and "Don't Take It Away," with its unapologetic Tennessee country accents on the vocal, leave indelible impressions, but it's the light-hearted, contrapuntal-rhythmed "It Is What Is," with its majestic, scudding-clouds brass chorus, that is the revelation. Here Wilson Meadows successfully reinvents himself.

With Man Up (M & M/Brimstone 2011), Meadows followed up the rejuvenating Transformation CD with another solid collection, highlighted by "Personal Matter," "Go Get That Love," "It Is What It Is (Remix)" and "Man Up."

Meadows collaborated with esteemed producer Harrison Calloway on Man Up, and the title track with its social message was their ultimate endeavor, according to an interview they both did with Jackson, Mississippi WMPR's DJ Boogie in 2010, prior to the album's release.

However, it was the staccato rhythm guitar riffs and soaring choruses of "It Is What It Is (Remix)" and "Personal Matter" that gobbled up the Southern Soul airplay. "It Is What It Is" combines a bit of Average White Band with a Paul McCartney-esque lyrical gift, and although it sounded almost off-puttingly original when it came out, it helped pave the way for "Personal Matter," which bounded up the Southern Soul singles charts.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Wilson Meadows (21st Century)

Wilson Meadows was born in 1944 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he remains a native. He entered the music business as a member of the doo wop group The Zircons, who released several singles in the late fifties and sixties, including the novelty record "No Twisting on Sunday."

Wilson Meadows next performed with two of his four brothers, Wallace and Eugene, as The Meadows, recording an album at Muscle Shoals for Radio Records. The Meadows subsequently moved to New York and recorded for the Heigh-Ho and Capitol labels, including the single "Go On And Cry" (which Meadows released many years later as a solo act).

In the early 70's The Meadows changed their name to The Meadows Brothers and cut one release on Hip Spin, "Get On Down Like Soul Folks Do", and later a full self-titled album with producer Brad Shapiro, resulting in a charting single, "I Can't Understand," in 1977 on the Kayvette label. The group disbanded soon thereafter.

Meadows returned to the music business as a solo performer in the mid-nineties. While working with guitarist/producer Mike Headrick, owner of Mikron Recording, on demos of songs he had written, Meadows' tracks were given to Georgia-based producer Bob Grady, whose label had up until then specialized exclusively in country music.

Grady shared the songs with contacts of his in England, and the collection resulted in his label's first soul album, released in Europe as MEMORIES, on Bob Grady Records (BGRCD 9501). Meadows and Headrick co-produced.

Meadows' American debut was picked up by Ichiban Records in 1997 and released under the same title, Memories. As is often the case with long-delayed first albums containing years of pent-up songwriting, the collection scored a series of well-received ballads in the re-emerging Southern Soul market, including, "I Promise," "That's Still My Love," "Just Like I Promised" and "Let's Cut Out This Game."

Firmly established over the next couple of years as a credible new Southern Soul singer/songwriter, Meadows released a steady series of albums on the Bob Grady label beginning with his sophomore CD, Dealing Real, in 2000.

Choices (2002), The Best Of Wilson Meadows (2003), Back to Basics (2004) and Love Bomb (2006) followed, all on Bob Grady.

Go On And Cry, a reissue of Memories (1997) with the addition of the title track and Hold On My Heart from Back To Basics (2004), appeared on the MSI label in 2007.

Meadows expanded his 21st Century style with the appearance of the aptly-titled Transformation CD on the M&M/Brimstone label.

Here Meadows moved on from his trademark Curtis Mayfield and Smokey Robinson-derived soul music balladeering to incorporate pop-oriented sounds and faster-tempoed, guitar-driven songs, including "It Is What It Is" and "I Wanna Get Witcha Baby."

The trend continued with 2011's Man Up (also on M&M/Brimstone) and its singles "Personal Matter," "It Is What Is (Remix)" and "Man Up."

The two albums also featured new takes on Meadows' tenor-driven ballads with the soft, country harmonica-inflected "I'm Missing You" and the subtle "Go Get That Love."

Wilson Meadows Discography:

Memories (Ichiban 1997)

Dealing Real (Bob Grady 2000)

Choices (Bob Grady 2002)

The Best Of Wilson Meadows (Bob Grady 2003)

Back To Basics (Bob Grady 2004)

Love Bomb (Bob Grady 2006)

Go On And Cry Go On And Cry MSI Import 2007)

Transformation (M & M / Brimstone 2008)

Man Up (M & M/Brimstone 2011)


Song's Transcendent Moment

"You can't stop the rain
When its pouring down.
And you can't stop a man
When he wants to run around.

It is what it is.
That's all there is to that.
You can't take a dog
And make it into a cat.

Get out of those dreams.
Stop fooling yourself."


Tidbits

1.

August 19, 2012: Wilson Meadows songs on YouTube


Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Let's Cut Out This Game" on YouTube.


Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "That's Still My Love" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Personal Matter" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "I'm Falling" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "I'm Changing" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "I Wanna Get With You" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "I Got The Right One" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Gonna Put It On You" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Where Will This Leave Me" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Just Like I Promised" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "I Wanna Get Witcha Baby" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Baby I Promise" on YouTube.

Listen to a rare recording of The Meadows Brothers (with Wilson Meadows on lead vocal) singing "Don't Take It Away" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Just Can't Do Without You" on YouTube.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing "Personal Matter" on YouTube.

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2.

August 27, 2012: Miscellaneous Notes on Wilson Meadows


a. The album Go On And Cry (MSI Music 2007) is a reissue of Memories" (Ichiban 1997) with the addition of the title track and "Hold On My Heart" from Back To Basics (Bob Grady 2004). Meadows has a habit of moving songs from one album to another over time like musical chess pieces.

b. The song "She's Gone," a Daddy B. Nice 5-star Recommended Track from Love Bomb (Bob Grady 2006), was first done on The Meadows' The Meadows (Radio 1981).

c. "I'm Missing You," a Daddy B. Nice 4-star track from Transformation, (M & M 2008) features a saucy, movie-track-styled harmonica, the kind used in whimsical westerns, and as always with Meadows, the infusion of a country element strengthens the effect.

d. "Man Up," a Daddy B. Nice 3-star Recommended Track from Man Up! (M & M/Brimstone 2011), is one of Meadows' few forays into social issues.

e. "California Girl," a Daddy B. Nice 3-star Recommended Track from Love Bomb (Bob Grady 2006), is a song that doesn't sound like Meadows. The vocal mannerisms are different. Midway through the song, a little of the familiar Meadows image peeks through.


If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Smokey Robinson's "Share This Life With Me," you'll love Wilson Meadows' "It Is What It Is."


Honorary "B" Side

"I Promise"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Still My Love by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Still My Love


CD: The Best Of Wilson Meadows
Label: Bob Grady

Sample or Buy
The Best Of Wilson Meadows


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Promise by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
I Promise


CD: Memories
Label: Ichiban

Sample or Buy
Memories


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy It Is What It Is by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
It Is What It Is


CD: Transformation
Label: M & M / Brimstone

Sample or Buy
Transformation


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Let's Cut Out This Game by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Let's Cut Out This Game


CD: Memories
Label: Ichiban

Sample or Buy
Memories


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy She's Gone by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
She's Gone


CD: Love Bomb
Label: Bob Grady

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Love Bomb


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Don't Take It Away by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Don't Take It Away


CD: Choices
Label: Bob Grady

Sample or Buy
Choices


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Go Get That Love by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Go Get That Love


CD: Dealing Real
Label: Bob Grady

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Dealing Real


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Wanna Get Witcha by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
I Wanna Get Witcha


CD: Transformation
Label: M & M / Brimstone

Sample or Buy
Transformation


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm Missing You by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
I'm Missing You


CD: Transformation
Label: M & M / Brimstone

Sample or Buy
Transformation


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Just Can't Do Without You     by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Just Can't Do Without You


CD: Memories
Label: Ichiban

Sample or Buy
Memories


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Just Like I Promised by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Just Like I Promised


CD: Memories
Label: Ichiban

Sample or Buy
Memories


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Personal Matter by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Personal Matter


CD: Man Up
Label: M & M / Brimstone

Sample or Buy
Man Up


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Don't Make Me Waste My Love by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Don't Make Me Waste My Love


CD: Man Up
Label: M & M / Brimstone

Sample or Buy
Man Up


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Go On And Cry by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Go On And Cry


CD: Go On And Cry
Label: MSI Import

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Go On And Cry


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Got The Right One by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
I Got The Right One


CD: Love Bomb
Label: Bob Grady

Sample or Buy
Love Bomb


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy If You Can't Hold Your Love      by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
If You Can't Hold Your Love


CD: Choices
Label: Bob Grady

Sample or Buy
Choices


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Man Up by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Man Up


CD: Man Up
Label: M & M / Brimstone

Sample or Buy
Man Up


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Shake by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
Shake


CD: Back To Basics
Label: Bob Grady

Sample or Buy
Back To Basics


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy When You Really Love Somebody    by Wilson  Meadows (21st Century)
When You Really Love Somebody


CD: Back To Basics
Label: Bob Grady

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Back To Basics


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