You Don’t Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-1972

Carl Hall

Omnivore Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


You Don’t Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-1972 by Carl Hall is a soulful cry from the past.

Carl Hall, who died in 1999, had a voice in a million yet failed to gain any recording success or reach any American music chart. His major notoriety came as an actor in such Broadway productions as The Wiz and Truly Blessed: A Musical Celebration Of Mahalia Jackson and the feature film Hair.

He began his career in the 1950s as a member of Raspberry Gospel Group. While his acting career began in the early 1960s, he recorded unsuccessfully for the Mercury label. He came under the guidance of producer James Ragovoy from 1967-1972 and released three singles for the Loma and Atlantic labels. Those six sides have now been combined with 13 unreleased tracks to form this new album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

His 1967 Loma single “You Don’t Know Nothing About Love” was his most commercial recording but its intensity may have kept it off mainstream radio. The previously unreleased  ”Just Like I Told You” has a wonderful groove to it, while “It Was You (That I Needed)” is a ballad that rivals Gene Pitney at his sonic best. There is a stripped-down demo of “Dance Dance Dance” that looks back to his gospel roots with just a piano, tambourine, and vocal group in support.

Hall could also cover other artists’ hits and take them in unusual directions. He transforms the Jefferson Airplanes “Somebody To Love” into a funky masterpiece complete with brass and strings. His vocal on “Time Is One My Side” outshines Mick Jagger in its gritty intensity. His voice soars into the stratosphere on the Beatles “The Long And Winding Road.” Possibly the best example of his voice is the demo of “What Kind Of Fool Am I,” where his only backing is a simple piano.

The question remains as to why Hall never received any commercial success during his lifetime, as his releases were the equal of many of his contemporaries. It may have been that he never really settled into a consistent vocal style or that his voice was just too dramatic for radio airplay at the time. Also, Atlantic had a large number of artists that were more important to their success and Loma was on its last legs.

The music of Carl Hall has been out of print or never issued for decades. His voice was unique in soul music. You Don’t Know Nothing About Love: The Lomax/Atlantic Recordings 1967-1972 welcomes back music that should be appreciated by anyone interested in the soul music of the soul era.

Rating: B+

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