Al Wilson, 1939-2008
Veteran singer Al Wilson, a versatile performer who recorded rock, spirituals, blues, and soul, but is best known for his #1 hit "Show and Tell," died Monday night. He was 68.
Most of you probably know "Show and Tell," an epochal 70s soul ballad with a slow-burning groove, funky clavinet, and a chorus that scales pop heaven. So to honor Wilson I'll feature his first hit single (#27, U.S.), 1967's "The Snake."
This classic has many devotees on the Northern Soul scene, though to be fair, plenty of big-time soul fans think it's overrated. It's always worked for me. Not only do I enjoy this record's tight, well-played backing (probably featuring some of the great L.A. musicians who also played on Johnny Rivers' records, since this disc was done for his Soul City label), the lyrics are also sociologically fascinating. And Wilson sings the hell out of them.
The story concerns a woman who finds an injured snake and takes him in. She nurses him back to health, but overplays her hand...I wonder if this is an old legend, because it certainly sounds like one.
R.I.P., Mr. Wilson.