Soul Heaven: Willie Mitchell

Willie MitchellIF you ever fell in love with an Al Green record, then you owe a debt to Willie Mitchell. Maybe he touched you with something by the brilliant Ann Peebles. Or from Syl Johnson, a sort of rougher round the edges version of Al Green who I love for his version of Take Me To The River.

All of those brilliant soul singers from Memphis were produced at Hi Records by Willie Mitchell – and he made them sound fantastic. Of course he was working with unique talents but they all recognised how Mitchell artfully showcased their efforts. He died yesterday aged 81 two weeks after a heart attack, and gone was a master of music that probably won’t get the big obits and headlines in this country that he merits. He was a great musician as well, mainly on the trumpet. Get on Spotify or iTunes – or head down to your local record shop if you can find one – and dig out his instrumental of Sunny. It wasn’t one he was best known for but it always warms me up when I’m waiting for a train in the cold at Camden Road.

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