Daddy B. Nice's #31 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day"
Composed by George Jackson and John Ward
March 1, 2016: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews
February 14, 2016:
OLLIE NIGHTINGALE: I'll Drink Your Bathwater, Baby (Re-Mastered, Deluxe Edition With 3 Bonus Tracks) (Ecko) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.Ollie Nightingale was born Ollie Hoskins in 1936 in Batesville, Tennessee. In the late fifties he became the lead singer of the Dixie Nightingales, a popular Memphis-based gospel group who recorded, performed and aired on Sunday-morning radio for years. In the late sixties and early seventies the Nightingales became a secular group and recorded a few R&B hits on the Stax label. Eventually, Ollie left the group for a solo career, and throughout the next two decades he performed around the South from his base in Memphis. In the mid-nineties his career received a major boost when he signed with Ecko Records. Nightingale's first CD for the label remains one of the most uniquely titled albums ever: I'll Drink Your Bathwater, Baby (1995). "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day" was featured on that disc.
Nightingale produced three excellent albums in three years with Ecko, including a cameo on Barbara Carr's signature hit "Footprints On The Ceiling" and a "response" song to Bobby Rush's hit, "Big Fat Woman," titled "I'll Take A Big Fat Woman." Sadly, just after the release of his album Make It Sweet in 1997, and at the peak of his powers, Ollie Nightingale died of heart failure at the age of 62. Ecko Records released three posthumous collections, 1998's Ollie Style, 2002's At His Best and 2007's At His Best Vol. 2.
Now there's a fitting complementary piece to those three retrospective collections, and with its potent mix of simmering blues and romantic soul (and three bonus tracks including "You've Got A Booger Bear Under There"), Ecko's re-mastered release of Ollie Nightingale's I'LL DRINK YOUR BATHWATER, BABY memorializes an especially significant album for John Ward.
BATHWATER was the Memphis indie-label CEO's debut release. It's the first time Ward strutted his "stuff"--his vision of producing the blues--and over two decades since, collaborating with artists like O.B. Buchana, Ms. Jody, Lee "Shot" Williams, Denise LaSalle, Carl Sims, Quinn Golden, Sheba Potts-Wright, Donnie Ray, Charles Wilson, Barbara Carr, Mr. Sam and Jaye Hammer, there has been no more effective nor consistent purveyor of contemporary blues in America.
"I always refer back to Z.Z Hill's “Down Home Blues” in the early 80's," the onetime Malaco songwriter told your Daddy B. Nice, "because that was right when I came along. I was a young white blues guy that moved to Memphis to try and find what blues might be left. I had been playing with Son Thomas down in Leland Ms. and 12 bar blues was my bag. I listened to and played all the Blues I could. In Memphis there was plenty of music but not much Blues. Right away I started meeting a lot of Black musicians because of my interest in the Blues but they were all basically playing Soul. I guess it was pretty well felt among Black folks that the Blues was dead up to that point and had been for awhile. Then "Down Home Blues" came out and the effect was palpable. There was like a buzz among musicians with everyone saying “Down Home Blues" has brought the Blues back. The song was played on every gig around town that I ever saw or played on for the next few years. Suddenly they were playing a Blues song on the radio and it was very popular. Soon they were having whole Blues shows on major stations. I know you know the story. I’m still waiting for that to happen again."
In focus, detail and scope, Ward's love of the blues is all over I'LL DRINK YOUR BATHWATER, BABY. The vocals, arrangements and production rival any electric blues ever put out by Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records. And Nightingale unleashes his distinctive, falsetto-edged tenor on these blues standards--"I'll Drink Your Bathwater, Baby," "I'm Ready To Party," "You And Louise" and the climactic "I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You"--like a man possessed.
Listen to Ollie Nightingale singing "I'll Drink Your Bathwater, Baby." on YouTube.
Something else you'll hear on this album: stupendous horn fills the likes of which haven't been heard on a contemporary southern soul album in years. Jim Spake on saxophone, Kenneth Jackson on trumpet: what a difference they make. Listen to Spake's sax solo on "Hold On." In this bargain-basement era of production, it's like paradise lost.
The re-mastering is also incredible, and if you're used to getting a lot of your southern soul through the internet, you'll be blown away by the cathedral-like resonance of the sound. It pains me to say it, but this re-mastered blast-from-the-past makes much of contemporary southern soul sound thinly produced. You may want to hold back awhile on listening to Donnell Sullivan's "Whistle While You Twerk."
Listen to Ollie Nightingale singing "I'm Ready To Party" on YouTube.
On the other hand, the bass lines on these tunes are so rudimentary I remember learning them as a child (from the hippest of my fellow bass violinists in my high-school symphony-music orchestra), and folks, this was Iowa in the early 60's. The bass line in "I'm Ready To Party," for example, is the same progression those barefoot gals play onstage in the Japanese teahouse in Quentin Tarentino's "Kill Bill Vol. 1." So much for the reach of the blues across space and time.
And if, like your Daddy B. Nice, you're more of a soul music man than a blues man like John Ward, you're still going to love this album, because not only is the blues done well, the soul is through the roof, starting--of course--with the song that set the bar for contemporary southern soul ballads, "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day."
To hear this song in all its re-mastered glory is awe-inspiring. You keep pinching yourself to make sure you're not witnessing the Temptations and The Miracles complete with pole-legged suits and choreographed moves singing and dancing across your mind. Composed by the great southern soul composer George Jackson with the help of Ward, the lyrics nevertheless look mundane when printed out on the computer monitor. They don't do justice to the ethereal quality of the recording.
Just as Nightingale was a living link to underrated groups (at least in their time) like the Delfonics, Stylistics, Spinners and Impressions, you can hear the "Midnight Mood" influence echoing in the beautiful ballads by later contemporary southern soul artists as diverse as Jeff Floyd ("I Found Love (On A Lonely Highway)"), David Brinston ("Party 'Til The Lights Go Out"), Robert "The Duke" Tillman ("I Found Love"), Sir Charles Jones ("Is Anybody Lonely?") and Frank Mendenhall ("Time").
Listen to Ollie Nightingale singing "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day" on YouTube.
In fact, soul music--"Changing For The Better," "Hold On," "She's In A Midnight Mood," "Babysitting," "That's What You Are To Me" and the sumptuous bonus track, "You've Got a A Booger Bear Under There," originally released on 1996's TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO CD--alternates with the blues almost 50/50 throughout. These tunes possess such great instrumental tracks you know from the opening bars, before Ollie even opens his mouth, that good melodies and sweet-rocking tempos await. And in "Babysitting," when Ollie sings--
"I'm gonna give her a pacifier
That's gonna really satisfy her
And make her feel so good inside"
--it's with a flirtatiousness that sounds almost innocent from today's perspective. "Babysitting" ends in the back-to-your-mama's-lap contentment of childhood nursery rhymes. Perfect. Just like the album.
---Daddy B. Nice.
Buy a bargain-priced copy of the re-mastered I'LL DRINK YOUR BATHWATER, BABY CD by Ollie Nightingale at Target.
Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Ollie Nightingale.
See more about John Ward in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
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How fitting that the most flowery song in all of Southern Soul is sung by a man named Nightingale. This is as pop as R&B gets. In the country of Southern Soul rhythm and blues, "She's In A Midnight Mood" is the romantic border. But like so many "borders" and "outposts" of the emerging genre, it needs to be there.
The best Southern Soul recordings have often succeeded because of their ability to absorb exotic influences. It's interesting to hear the old Motown studio musicians--the guys who backed up the Temptations and the Supremes--talking about how they came up with the rhythm track for "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," in the 2002 documentary, Standing In The Shadows Of Motown. They found their distinctive rhythm for "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" in the American Indian drum's emphasis on the first beat of every measure--ONE, two, three, four, ONE, two, three, four.
Like fellow R&B balladeer Ronnie Lovejoy, the late Ollie Nightingale is known and loved by Southern Soul fans as something of a one-hit wonder. And like Lovejoy, whose "Sho' Wasn't Me" packs such a powerful punch it transported Lovejoy to the top rank of artists on its merits alone, Nightingale's accomplishment in "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day" is so complete that countless artists have been inspired and influenced by it.
"The girl just called me up,
And I've got to get away.
She said, 'I'm all alone,
And I need to see you right away.'
Fellas, will you cover for me?
I won't be gone for long.
There's something I just got to do."
Composed by the great Ecko Records team of George Jackson and John Ward, the lyrics nevertheless look mundane when printed out on the computer monitor. They don't do justice to the ethereal lushness of the recording. "She's In A Midnight Mood's" gorgeous melody and arrangement is like a roll of fine Arabian silk unfolding in front of one's feet, and the sound is so replete with references to the 60's that you keep pinching yourself to make sure you're awake--not dreaming in the Land of Oldies. You can visualize groups like the early Temps and Miracles, complete with pole-legged suits and choreographed moves, smiling at you from under twinkling eyes.
Just as Nightingale was a living link to underrated groups (at least in their time) like the Delfonics, Stylistics, and Impressions, you can hear the "Midnight Mood" influence echoing in the beautiful ballads by contemporary artists as diverse as Jeff Floyd ("I Found Love (On A Lonely Highway)"), David Brinston ("Kick It"), Robert "The Duke" Tillman ("I Found Love"), Sir Charles Jones ("Friday") and Frank Mendenhall ("Time").
Not only is Ollie Nightingale the romantic outpost of Southern Soul. He's the conscience for the romantic ballad in all of R&B. To the extent Southern Soul de-emphasizes romance in favor of realism, it's a reaction to the technique-first, heavy-on-the-ego style of so many "urban" R&B artists over the last twenty years of the 20th century. For young artists confused about the fusion of style and substance in a love song, Ollie Nightingale stands like a beacon of integrity. And "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day" is his masterpiece.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Ollie Nightingale
Ollie Nightingale was born Ollie Hoskins in 1936 in Batesville, Tennessee. In the late fifties he became the lead singer of the Dixie Nightingales, a popular Memphis-based gospel group who recorded, performed and were heard on a Sunday-morning radio show for years. In the late sixties and early seventies the Nightingales became a secular group and recorded a few R&B hits on the Stax label.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"She's in a midnight mood
Add Denise LaSalle to the long list of artists who have covered Ollie Nightingale's "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day." LaSalle showcases the track on her popular 2002 Ecko release, Still The Queen.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Commodores' "Night Shift," you'll love Ollie Nightingale's "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day."
Honorary "B" Side
"You've Got A Booger Bear Under There"
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