Our final southern soul man this month is considerably lesser known than the previously featured heavyweights. Crossing over from the Augusta gospel scene, Mickey Murray had a huge hit out the gates with Shout Bamalama, but was unable to back it up despite some valiant efforts. He was a fan of James Brown and James Brown was a fan of his. Murray modelled a great deal of his material around the stylings of Brown, and also that of Otis Redding. Both of which, called Georgia home as well. Murray had a thickened layer of grit and gruff that give his songs a real raw and emotive feel, especially prominent on my preferred stock, his deep sides.
Born in South Carolina in the 1930s, Mickey Murray had roots in Georgia and shined shoes to help earn a living early in life. Murray and his brother, Clarence, started out singing gospel songs in Augusta and North Augusta. His brother would become a lead vocalist with the legendary Swanee Quintet based in Augusta. Mickey sang with the Dixie Jubilaires. It was Murray’s band teacher, Raymond Dean, at Jefferson High School in Bath, who hooked him up with Augusta show promoter Sam Gantt, the manager of a popular band called The Zippers. Through engagements promoted by Gantt, Murray was spotted by Shelby Singleton who signed him to his newly minted SSS International label in 1966. Early the following year Murray's "Shout Bamalama" single and accompanying album proved to be the labels first smash hit. The song was a million-seller and thrust Murray into an albeit brief brush with success. Murray opened shows for Aretha Franklin at Harlem’s famed Apollo theater and toured with such hot acts as Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers and The Isley Brothers. His follow-up singles for SSS included a duet 45 with brother Clarence but it and the others did not register sadly. Murray signed with King Records subsidiary Federal Records in early 1970 and recorded the album People Are Together. The album however, wasn't really released. If it was, it was in limited numbers and not promoted at all. "It was a risky endeavor to push “People Are Together” as the album’s lead single in the South. It was reportedly black DJs who killed the record, labeling it as too progressive and fearing that they’d lose their on-air jobs should they play it. It doesn’t sound remotely controversial today: It’s a call to all of mankind to join together and love one another, in the spirit of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and many other songs of its time. Regardless, fame and a longer singing career didn’t follow for Murray, although he’d record later in life. But the defiantly hopeful “People Are Together,” written by Bob Garrett and Calvin Arline, now stands as a virtually unheard gem; whether it was known to the public when it was recorded more than 40 years ago is irrelevant. What is relevant is the song itself, a timeless three-minute sermon which implores us all to give a little more love." Other singles from the album were released but also failed to register. Murray had one follow-up 45 for Federal in 1972 and then dwindled into obscurity. He had a terrible 45 for the Pepco label in 1975 and an even worse one for Earth Quake Records in 1979. A near decade later Murray fronted some tracks for funk-revival outfit, The Jungle Band, whose recordings were issued by Charly Records in 1988. Fast forward to 2012. After a little gentle persuasion, a 74 year-old retired Murray, sees his People Are Together album finally getting the release and acknowledgement it deserved over forty years prior. Secret Stash re-issued the album and convinced Murray to perform to promote the release at the Cedar Cultural Centre in Minnesota. He was backed by a six-piece band that included Secret Stash owners Eric Foss on drums and Cory Wong on electric guitar.
Treat Him Right collects the complete recordings up until 1972. It omits the two less than favorable mid to late 70s singles but does include the Jungle Band LP (c/o the mighty Sir Shambling). All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.