Mighty Joe Hicks is a rare album of funky blues from singer Joe Hicks, the only one recorded he recorded for the Stax label Enterprise, and oddly recorded out in Hollywood! Despite its west coast roots, the record’s got a sound that’s still plenty rough-edged and earthy – mostly a mix of blues with a slight dose of soul, especially on the warmer, mellow tracks. But the best ones are actually those that get a bit funky – not in an all-out mode, but with chunky rhythms at the bottom that make the album plenty appealing if you’re a fan of messed-up grooves!
Hailed from San Francisco, California, his 1968 recording, “Don’t It Make You Feel Funky”, was produced by Pat Vegas and released by AGC Records. it later appeared on the 1995 compilation album, A Treasure Chest of Northern Soul. In 1969, he recorded the single, “I’m Goin’ Home” b/w “Home Sweet Home – Part II”, which was written and produced by Sly Stone, and released on the latter’s Stone Flower label.
His joint compositions with Delaney Bramlett, “Sound of the City” and ” I Know Something Good About You”, were featured on Delaney & Bonnie & Friends‘ 1972 album, D&B Together. With Bobby Womack, Hicks co-wrote “Simple Man” and “Ruby Dean” (which both appeared on Womack’s 1972 Understanding album), plus Womack’s hit single, “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”. In 1973, Hicks recorded the album, Mighty Joe Hicks, which was released by Enterprise Records (a subsidiary label of Stax) which included “Ruby Dean“.
A1 The Team 2:33
A2 Nobody Knows You 4:17
A3 Train of Thought 2:06
A4 Rock Me Baby 3:30
A5 Could It Be Love 4:31
B1 Rusty Ol’ Halo 4:17
B2 All In 4:57
B3 Water Water 3:37
B4 Ruby Dean 9:02
Review by Soulmakossa
Mighty Joe Hicks… quite the mystery man…
All I could dig up on this gravelly-voiced interpreter of soulful, bluesy funk is that he was tight with Sly Stone and Bobby Womack, hanging out with both of ’em at Stone’s L.A. mansion during Sly’s recording of his masterpiece ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On‘.
A singer ‘everybody liked’, per a Mojo cover story on the making of that landmark album in 1971, Hicks’ sole longplayer consists of very little psychadelic funk and cocaine induced paranoia that so typifies ‘Riot’. Instead, Hicks comes across more like a latter day Delta Blues wailer.
His take on Sam Cooke’s “Nobody Knows You” oozes Mississippah Mud, and “Rock Me Baby” is as drenched in the way-low-down-over-yonder Blues as the original by B.B. King. “All In” and “Train of Thought” feature guitar work that sounds eerily like Freddie King. In fact, there’s a vicious heavy rock guitar sound throughout this album, and my guess is that it comes from the über talented pickin’ fingers of Bobby Womack.
But there are some weird funkadelic-type thangs here, as well. The cynical “Rusty Ol’ Halo” stutters like one of those Sly Stone funk vehicles, smothered in dirty organ riffs. “Water Water” sounds like a distorted gospel song set to a bad dream arrangement. Both feature Hicks’ intimate, soulful pipes.
Two tracks here stand out, though. Rugged, raw spins on Bobby Womack’s “Could It Be Love” and the 9-minute bluesy funk opus “Ruby Dean” had graced Womack’s 1972 ‘Understanding‘ album, and while Hicks’ versions aren’t as amazing as those, they do have a funky, rough late night vibe that commands attention.
A super strange album.