The Upshot: Jazz/soul man Winfield Parker from the ‘60s and ‘70s hits the sweet spot with a welcome anthology.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
In the mid-60s, singer/saxophonist Winfield Parker recorded a clutch of singles for Rufus Mitchell’s Ru-Jac, one of the first African American-owned record labels in the South. Parker would go on to score his biggest success in the 70s, but his Ru-Jac sides remained special to him and Mitchell, with the latter asking Parker to preserve them as his dying wish. Thus, when Omnivore acquired the Ru-Jac archives, it was only natural that those singles be rescued from obscurity via this collection.
As befitting the times in which they were recorded, Parker’s songs – a mix of his own tunes and those from the growing stable of Ru-Jac writers – hit a sweet spot not often practiced anymore. Somewhere between the reserved soul of Sam Cooke and the fire-and-brimstone of Otis Redding, Parker’s work burns equally bright on peppy dance tunes (“She’s So Pretty,” “Rockin’ in the Barnyard”) and devotional ballads (“My Love For You,” “What Do You Say?”). He’s probably at his best on the numbers that fall somewhere in between – “I Love You Just the Same,” “Go Away Playgirl” and the title track are sterling examples of the type of R&B Leon Bridges is trying to revive. Aficionados of sixties soul should seek Mr. Clean out immediately, but even casual fans of old-fashioned R&B will find much on this record to love.
DOWNLOAD: “Go Away Playgirl,” “Mr. Clean,” “What Do You Say?”