Percy Mayfield

Voice Within

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Percy Mayfield is known equally for a string of hits he penned and recorded form 1950-1952. After a nasty accident that left him permanently disfigured he shied away from public performance, but continued to record, and became Ray Charles' right-hand man as a songwriter (anyone remember a little ditty called "Hit the Road Jack"?). But Mayfield's accomplishments as a performer of his own material for the Specialty label are the real treasures, and the measure of his contribution to the world of blues and R&B. This collection, The Voice Within, assembled by the U.K.'s Rev-Ola imprint in its Bandstand series, is the one to get. Containing 29 cuts on a single disc, it features every A- and B-side Mayfield cut for Specialty between 1950 and 1955. From his first smash, "Please Send Me Someone to Love," to "What a Fool I Was," "Lonesome Highway," "Cry Baby," and "I Need Your Love So Bad," to his sides with the Maytones like "My Heart Is Cryin'," "You Were Lyin' to Me," and so many others it's nearly an exhausting listen. His laid-back delivery that nonetheless gets inside a lyric and his simple blues changes wrench from these tunes every ounce of emotion almost effortlessly; this is nothing short of astounding. While Charles Brown -- who, to be fair, is a master and recorded much more -- is so well known for his smooth delivery and his phrasing, it is Mayfield who is the true genius of the field; Brown's manner of writing left his tunes open to so many different types of interpretation that they have been covered literally hundreds, if not thousands of times. This set has a couple of sound problems, coming form substandard master tapes and acetates, but it's nothing major and certainly nothing that will get in the way of the enjoyment of these gorgeous sides.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:53
2 2:48
3 2:55
4 2:48
5 2:46
6 2:26
7 2:50
8 2:55
9 2:49
10 3:00
11 2:49
12 2:12
13 2:02
14 2:59
15 2:31
16 2:59
17 2:51
18 2:15
20 2:40
21 2:47
22 2:40
23 1:55
24 2:51
feat: Joy Hamilton
26 2:46
feat: The Maytones
feat: The Maytones
29 2:30
blue highlight denotes track pick