Bobby Sheen

Too Many to Fight

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Bobby Sheen was a journeyman R&B singer who had some impressive credentials but never broke through to stardom; he sang with Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, whose Phil Spector-produced version of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" was a hit, and he was a touring member of the Robins and the Coasters. But Sheen also cut a handful of singles as a solo act, three of which were released by Warner Bros. in 1972 and 1973. None of them were hits, and neither was a fourth single released by Chelsea Records in 1975, but Sheen (who passed away in 2000) has earned a cult following among British soul collectors, and Too Many to Fight collects 17 tracks he recorded in the '70s for producers Clayton Ivey and Terry Woodford. The eight tunes from Sheen's solo singles are all included here, as well as seven previously unreleased selections, and this material is dominated by Sheen's strong, personable vocal style. Sheen tended to favor songs in which he was either the put-upon suitor (falling victim to a cheating woman or a gal who figures she can do better) or the loyal lover man, and he had the sort of quietly emphatic vocal style that worked well for either approach. The work of producers Ivey and Woodford doesn't fare quite as well; while they were based out of Muscle Shoals, AL, their sides lack the grit and passion of the better-known studio and production houses that worked out of the same town, and their polished but unremarkable backings didn't always give Sheen the support he needed. But tunes like "It Ain't Easy Being Your Fool," "I May Not Be What You Want," and "She Hit Me from the Blind Side" show Sheen was a talent who deserved wider recognition for his solo work, and Too Many to Fight has more than enough memorable songs to be worth a spin for fans of classic soul.

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