Carl Hall – You Don’t Know Nothing About Love (2015)

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Short of discovering one of his old 45s in a trade store, few were the pathways into the lost legacy of Carl Hall, a four-octave gospel-inspired singer who made a string of glowing turn-of-the-’70s R&B side that simply vanished. Though Hall built a third career in film and on stage — notably appearing in The Wiz and the movie version of Hair — his soul-lifting recordings never hit, and thus remained unissued.

That makes You Don’t Know Nothing About Love: The Loma / Atlantic Recordings 1967-72, due June 23, 2015 via Omnivore Recordings, both a badly needed primer and a well-packaged framing moment for Carl Hall’s lost vocal genius.

A winning eye for material from Grammy-winning industry legend Jerry Ragovoy (composer of the Irma Thomas / Rolling Stones gem “Time is On My Side” and Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,” and a producer for Bonnie Raitt, Dionne Warwick and Lorraine Ellison) completed the package. Ragovoy was, in fact, the perfect foil, having contributed to countless classic sessions that blended an overt gospel feel with touches of R&B, opera and Broadway. Yet, each time, their collaborations sunk like a rock.

Eventually, of course, Loma Records — the R&B subsidiary of Warner Bros. — would have simply lost interest, if it hadn’t already gone under entirely. Carl Hall ended up briefly on Atlantic, and though he broadly diversified his songbook (taking on the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road,” “Change With the Seasons” by Elliot Lurie of Looking Glass fame, and the Jefferson Airplane’s “Need Somebody to Love,” all included here), it was again for naught. Atlantic issued a debut single, but none of the rest.

Listening today to You Don’t Know Nothing About Love: The Loma / Atlantic Recordings 1967-72, we find a singer who is at one with the song. Carl Hall gave each performance a charge, unleashing a voice that simply must be heard to be believed. Somehow that very distinctiveness worked against him, even if his faith never did. Hall, who died in 1999, later returned to serve as a minister of music at a local church in New York.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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