Friday, September 15, 2006


Roy Hamilton, Don't Let Go.

A bit of bliss for Friday.

At the time, some people thought Roy Hamilton was slumming on this track. Hamilton had started out in gospel, with a quartet called the Searchlight Singers, and in 1954 he had a monster pop hit with his version of "You'll Never Walk Alone." More pop standards followed: "Unchained Melody," "Ebb Tide," "If I Loved You," to the point where, by 1956, Hamilton looked to be the new Nat King Cole.

And then he got sick and quit, for a time. Hamilton was suffering from pneumonia and tuberculosis, and said he was retiring to be a painter. By 1957, he was back on stage, in revues with LaVern Baker, Little Willie John and the Clovers, and the music he was recording now had a bit more bounce to it.

"Don't Let Go," recorded and released in the last months of '57 as Epic 9257 (allegedly the first rock & roll disc to be recorded in stereophonic sound), is the sound of Hamilton breaking out of his shell, and is one of those records which seems to be creating soul music as it spins. A few months later, Hamilton would appear in a cheapie rock & roll movie, Let's Rock, and seemed happy to be there. On Golden Classics.

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