Johnny Copeland

It's Me: Classic Texas Soul 1965-72

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Johnny Copeland is one of those singers who is beloved by a few but known by only a handful more. He had his shot at the big time in the '80s, when he recorded an album called Showdown with guitarists Albert Collins and Robert Cray, but his best music was cut a decade or more before, and Ace's 2013 collection, It's Me: Classic Texas Soul 1965-1972, captures it all, tracing the As and Bs and obscure sides the singer made for any number of southern labels during that seven-year period. Here it adds up to two discs and 33 songs, none of them national hits, but some popular in their region, all holding up quite well over the years. Copeland wasn't a flashy singer; he got the job done, something that served him well on the chitlin circuit but didn't get him much beyond that, despite ambitious, jumping covers of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and other pop and rock hits -- he does a high-stepping cover of the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up, Little Susie," which sounds just a touch too anodyne for his talents -- but he always sounds best when he's singing something gritty and pure, with a serious funky undertow. He took the occasional stab at crossovers but he was at heart a journeyman, not a trailblazer, so he can sometimes seem like an old pro who is reticent to place a serious bet. He may never have taken any risks, but his wheelhouse was deep, so It's Me is a satisfying collection of little-known deep Southern soul.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
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blue highlight denotes track pick