Though many think vocalist Bobby Hatfield sang in falsetto (he didn’t) – he sang in a pure tenor on many Righteous Brothers tracks (with Bill Medley) & will always be remembered for his solo turn on their classic “Unchained Melody.”
When the unrelated men split in 1968 Bobby recorded “Messin’ in Muscle Shoals,” (MGM) but it didn’t chart. Then producer Richard Perry coming off great LPs with Harry Nilsson & Barbra Streisand came along. In 1971 at Apple Studios in London they convened with Ringo Starr (drums), Klaus Voorman (bass) & Al Kooper (piano & guitar), Chris Stainton (organ), Bobby Keys (sax), who played with the Rolling Stones & Jim Price (trumpet).
The reason this LP was unfinished: fuzzy. However, the insert admits that the initial 2 singles released by Warner’s performed poorly. Perry’s commitments squeezed his availability & interest by WB diminished. Personally, an artist of Hatfield’s stature — even if Perry was busy — Warner’s certainly could’ve assigned another staff producer. What was Al Kooper doing?
The LP has 13-unreleased tracks (except for the 2 singles): “Stay With Me,” & Oo Wee Baby, I Love You.”
Stay With Me – The Richard Perry Sessions (Omnivore Records – release: Feb 14) is a historical work by a legendary performer. The title song opens with take 1 (track 11 is the final single release). A Steve Cropper type guitar graces it. The drums masterful; Hatfield’s vocals, deep & rich in a Gregg Allman tone; soulful & nearly spiritual. Hatfield well beyond the range of Allman goes from the deeper end to soaring notes instantly.
Even if this didn’t top the pop charts I see no reason for failure on the R&B charts. Did Warner Brothers drop the ball? Include this in a movie & watch everyone request it.
With Ringo’s crew on hand on some tunes & Starr’s famous shuffle from The Beatles’ “Get Back,” on the rocker “Oo Wee Baby, I Love You,” (Take 2, 3 & Single Version). Bobby rocks harder & bluesier in an R&B tradition of Dion DiMucci & Clyde McPhatter in a Beatles framework. Chris’ organ dominates take 3. The musicians crank & the female backup added to the single sparkles. Bobby’s vocal growls then goes high & he sings with an authority seldom heard before. His soulful diversity in 1971 begins to suggest Terrence Trent D’Arby, Angelo Bond, & Prince.
George Harrison’s “What Is Life,” (Take 4 & 7) doesn’t suit. It’s soulful but the original was never soulful. Not everything translates. Compare the 2 versions on the CD, obviously, take 4 is closer to success as a slowed-down blues. Still not Hatfield. George Harrison’s “Sour Milk Sea” meant for The Beatles’ White Album but scrapped & given to Jackie Lomax is ditto: not meant for a Bobby Hatfield. However, …
The Motown classic “Baby Don’t You Do It,” (Takes 4/11 edited & 2) resonates. Funkier & on take 2 a more soulful Hatfield’s vocals at times growl. Something Bobby seldom did. Then slide back to silky tenor.
An original song — “Rock ‘n Roll Woman,” with a fuzz-toned guitar is mindful of Foghat, Black Oak Arkansas & Wet Willie. It was 1972. Proves why some singers are better interpreters of songs rather than writers.
It’s not “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” – but at the end this 47-minute rainbow has a pot of some gold & a note to suggest what could’ve been.
Available at Omnivore Recordings & Amazon. https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/bobby-hatfield-stay-with-me-the-richard-perry-sessions/