Willie Tee – 1970 – I’m Only A Man

One of the only albums ever from Willie Tee – an artist who’s usually known best for his funky 45s, but who really shines here in the space of a full-length record! Willie’s got a killer vocal style, with a warm raspy style that reminds us a bit of Tyrone Davis – but he’s produced here with a swinging soul vibe by David Axelrod, and he sings to some spectacular arrangements by HB Barnum that are in his best style of the late 60s!

The tracks are a wonderful mix of raw soul vocals and sophisticated production, and the album’s the kind of rare soul album that we only ever turn up once in a while! Includes a great vocal version of Cannonball Adderley’s “Walk Tall“.

Highlights include “Reach Out For Me” (the Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic), “Bring On The Heartaches“, “Mirror“, and the self-penned jazz-waltz “I’m Related To You“.

A1 Bring On the Heartaches 2:37
A2 I’m Only a Man 2:45
A3 Loneliness 2:37
A4 Reach Out for Me 3:34
A5 No Answer Came 3:04
A6 Walk Tall 3:14
B1 Mirror 3:12
B2 By the Time I Get to Phoenix 2:55
B3 Take Your Time 2:44
B4 I’m Related to You 3:00
B5 People 4:48

Famed New Orleans singer and pianist Willie Tee gives one of his finest ever performances on this classic release from 1969. Recorded under the guidance of Grammy award-winning composer/arranger David Axelrod, whose credits include Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls and countless others, I m Only A Man introduced heavy orchestration and sweeping arrangements to Tee s music, yet without sacrificing the emotional complexity of his vocals. Original compositions such as Mirror and the fantastic opener Bring on the Heartaches are balanced by superb cover versions of By the Time I Get to Phoenix and People, with some beautiful surprises (see the bold, cinematic sound of Lonliness ) in between.

A pretty bizar soul album right here…

Willie Tee hailed from the South, and had released some furious Nawlins-style singles in the ’60s, but his big label longplayer ‘I’m Just a Man’ sounds more Uptown; big arrangements, sweeping strings and bombastic crescendoes.

Heavily orchestrated soul gems like “Bring On the Heartaches“, “I’m Only a Man” and “Reach Out for Me” all incorporate busy, funky drums and bass with more glossy instrumentation, often in the guise of huge brass charts. “Reach Out for Me” is notable for its Native American flute motif, too.

Hard, heavy rock ‘n’ soul is here as well, with the thundering “Loneliness” – brimming with booming bass, blaring horns and fierce guitar hooks – and the lazy strut of the swangin’ “Walk Tall”.

It gets decidedly stranger with “No Answer Came“, a mixture of jazzy, moody introspection and horn-heavy pop soul. Lyrically, “Mirror” stretches it a bit – while a great, richly textured, organ-driven funk piece, Tee actually spends this song talking of his own perceived ugliness.

The rest of the flipside is made up of some pretty inconsistent material; the “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” cover stays close to the original, as does the almost supper club closer “People“. “Take Your Time” sounds a bit outdated knowing it was waxed in 1969, and “I’m Related to You” goes for the ugly ducklin trophey for being built on the laughable premise that two lovers are shocked to find out they’re actually related.

Now listen to this amazing performace and get this must have gem.

Full Biography for the legend Willie Tee here


As a Bonus Willie Tee’s “ ‎Teasin’ You” (1965-1971) with all his early hits.


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