As half (and in several cases, all) of the Righteous Brothers, Bobby Hatfieldâ€™s tenor was the emotional high-wire that supercharged the blue-eyed soul hits â€œYouâ€™ve Lost That Lovinâ€™ Feeling,â€ â€œSoul Inspirationâ€ and â€œUnchained Melody.â€ In 1968 his partner Bill Medley left the act, and by 1971, Hatfieldâ€™s pairing with the Knickerbockersâ€™ Jimmy Walker had also broken up. So it was with a solo career on his mind that he engaged with producer Richard Perry, who was hot off successful albums with Barbra Streisand and Nilsson. Initial sessions were held in the legendary Abbey Road studio in December 1971, with musical luminaries Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Al Kooper and Bobby Keys, and produced the single â€œOo Wee Baby, I Love You.â€ Hatfield was loose and ready to create new sounds as Ringoâ€™s drumming drew winningly on the Beatlesâ€™ â€œGet Back,â€ and a cover of George Harrisonâ€™s White Album-era â€œSour Milk Seaâ€ found Al Kooper banging away on piano as Hatfield exercised his falsetto.
A second set of sessions convened later in Los Angelesâ€™ legendary Western Studios (home to Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, and others), where a single was cut covering Lorraine Ellisonâ€™s â€œStay With Me.â€ Perry built the production with a full orchestra and chorus, and Hatfield lit it up with an impassioned vocal that echoes Ellisonâ€™s iconic original. The L.A. sessions also produced covers of Cole Porterâ€™s â€œIn the Still of the Nightâ€ (a song written for the 1937 film, Rosalie, and not, alas, the Five Satinsâ€™ 1956 doo-wop classic) and Billy Furyâ€™s â€œRun to My Lovinâ€™ Arms.â€ The former aligns with the Tin Pan Alley-era material that Hatfield recorded earlier in his career, while the latter overclocks the emotional tenor of the chorus similarly to Jay and the Americansâ€™ original.
Also included here is the B-side to both singles, â€œRock â€˜nâ€™ Roll Womanâ€ (a blues-rock Hatfield original that sings of life on the road, rather than the Buffalo Springfieldâ€™s hit), and covers of Harrisonâ€™s â€œWhat is Lifeâ€ and two exploratory approaches to Holland, Dozier & Hollandâ€™s â€œBaby Donâ€™t Do It.â€ Perryâ€™s growing renowned apparently pulled him away from this project, leaving the two singles as the only commercial output. And though Hatfield recorded Messinâ€™ in Muscle Shoals at the legendary FAME studios, these unfinished sessions demonstrate he had many more ideas than he ever got to release. This is a nice complement to Aceâ€™s Other Brother: Solo Anthology 1965-1970, providing valuable insight into Hatfieldâ€™s state at the start of the 1970s, as well as his creative process. A nice get for fans. [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]