Best remembered for the number one pop hit "Show and Tell," soul singer Al Wilson was born June 19, 1939 in Meridian, Mississippi. From childhood forward he was singing professionally, and by the age of 12 was leading his own spiritual quartet and singing in the church choir, even performing covers of country & western hits as circumstances dictated. While he was in high school, Wilson and his family relocated to San Bernardino, California, where he worked odd jobs as a mail carrier, a janitor, and an office clerk, in addition to teaching himself to play drums. After graduation he spent four years touring with Johnny Harris & the Statesmen before joining the U.S. Navy and singing with an enlisted men's chorus. After a two-year military stint, Wilson settled in Los Angeles, touring the local nightclub circuit before joining the R&B vocal group the Jewels; from there he landed with the Rollers, followed by a stint with the instrumental combo the Souls. In 1966, Wilson signed with manager Marc Gordon, who quickly scored his client an a cappella audition for Johnny Rivers. The "Secret Agent Man" singer not only signed Wilson to his Soul City imprint, but also agreed to produce the sessions that yielded the 1968 R&B smash "The Snake." The minor hit "Do What You Gotta Do" appeared that same year, but Wilson then largely disappeared from sight until 1973, when he issued the platinum-selling Weighing In -- the album's success was spurred by the shimmering "Show and Tell," a Johnny Mathis castoff that sold well over a million copies. "The La La Peace Song," released in 1974, proved another major hit, and two years later, "I've Got a Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again" peaked at number three on the R&B chart. With 1979's "Count the Days" Wilson scored his final chart hit, however, and he spent the next two decades touring clubs and lounges. In 2001 he re-recorded his classic hits for the album Spice of Life. Kidney failure took his life on April 21, 2008.
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Soul - Released August 10, 2018 | CLASSIC WORLD ENTERTAINMENT
Al Wilson has one of the smoothest, most reliable voices in the world of soul music. His gorgeous vocals have made him a touring sensation and although he has never really cracked the mainstream, he still maintains a loyal audience. Spice of Life, a collection of tracks that span his entire career, illustrate both his strengths and his weaknesses as a performer. His best songs are tracks like "Touch and Go" or "Show and Tell" -- tracks that utilize a full band to accentuate his voice. Next to a group of horns and a funky bassist, Wilson shines. Unfortunately, without that kind of setup, Wilson sounds lost and the arrangements lose focus. A perfect example of this is "Lottery of Love," a song that comes off as awkward and unfocused because of the hollow keyboard arrangement that backs up his vocals. The lyrics for this song, which given the right backdrop could have turned out quite funny, instead just come off as silly and boring. Around half of the album suffers from these empty setups, with only "Short Stakes and Bad Brakes/Harry's Lament" really delivering some quality Al Wilson despite the keyboards. Fans of Wilson may still enjoy this very much, but casual listeners should be warned that a good portion of this album lacks the passion that his early singles maintain. © Bradley Torreano /TiVo
Soul - Released May 1, 2012 | Platinum Collection