Walter Jackson

It's an Uphill Climb (To the Bottom)

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Chicago soul belter Walter Jackson didn't have many hits. Even the hits he managed to have were pretty weak. What he did have was an undeniably great voice and a raft of great songs. Collectables' It's an Uphill Climb (To the Bottom) is drawn from Jackson's years at Okeh Records in the mid-'60s and unfortunately doesn't contain many of Jackson's best songs. The title track is an amazing example of his dramatic and powerful way with a ballad with fine pop-soul backing and is one of his career highlights. Apart from that, a few others are good like "That's What Mama Say," a Curtis Mayfield-penned Chi-Soul groover, "Not You" a near operatic, overly stiff ballad, and "Opportunity," despite its overly corny attempt to hone in on the Drifters' territory, is graced by a strong vocal that shows that even when Jackson is constrained by his surroundings he can still knock the tune out of the park. The other seven songs are an unappealing mix of standards like "Moonlight in Vermont," "A Blossom Fell" and pop fodder like "She's a Woman" and "Let It Be Me" that fall victim to soppy arrangements. Jackson saves the day with his bedrock steady vocals but this is not his best material from the Okeh years. You can find that on The Best of Walter Jackson: Welcome Home -- The Okeh Years, a collection that also features some of the standards featured here but surrounds them with some first-class pop-soul like "My Ship Is Coming In" and "Speak Her Name." It will do a much better job of satisfying your Walter Jackson from the mid-'60s needs.

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