SOCIAL ANGST is more than just a blog, it is an invitation to aid in the building of wealth through the shared task of information distribution and discussion. It is a call to engage – engage in society, engage with your peers, engage in your political system, engage in spreading the wealth that is information, and engage in multiplying that wealth through discussion – so that collectively we may become more socially aware, more socially responsible, more socially vocal and ultimately more socially valuable.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Blog Snatch:
RIP Willie Mitchell Famed Producer

Willie Mitchell, the iconic American producer who worked with the talented Al Green, passed away on January, 5, 2010.  Social Angst sends out heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Mark Anthony Neal over at did a lovely tribute post on Mitchell today.  Check it out:

The House—and Man—that Willie Mitchell Built
by Mark Anthony Neal

There are many reasons to note the passing of Memphis-based trumpeter and producer Willie Mitchell (1928-2010), including his solid career as a Rhythm & Blues performer in the 1960s and his ownership of Royal Studios in Memphis. Mitchell, though, will forever be remembered as the architect of the sound of Hi Records. In its heyday in the mid-1970s, Hi-Records was home to musicians like Ann Peebles (“I Can’t Stand the Rain”), Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright, Otis Clay and most famously Al Green.

Willie Mitchell was born in Ashland, Mississippi in 1928 and began playing music during high school . In his formative years in the 1950s, when he settled in Memphis after a stint in the Armed Services, Mitchell played with or behind a who’s who of Memphis based musicians including Al Jackson, Jr. (future drummer for the groundbreaking Booker T. and the MGs) and young jazz giants like Phineas Newborn, Jr. and Charles Lloyd. By the end of the 1950s, Mitchell was a well respected session musician, though he harbored a desire to be a leader in his own right.

In the early 1960s, Mitchell released a few instrumental singles on the fledgling Hi Records, but also began to produce artists for the label. At the time Mitchell, whose musical sensibilities were geared to Jazz, began, like most of the nation, to become enthralled with the burgeoning Soul sound that was exploding in places like Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and of course Memphis, where the Stax label was a singular force.

In 1966 Don Robey, head of Duke and Peacock Records asked Mitchell to produce O.V. Wright. The session produced Wright’s great “Eight Men, Four Women” (”Eight men and four women, lord, they found me guilty of loving you”). The success of that single led Robey to ask Mitchell to work with Bobby Blue Bland, who recorded portions of A Touch of the Blues (1967) at Royal Recording Studios. The Touch of the Blues sessions produced one of Bland’s great ballads, “Chains of Love.” According to Peter Guralnick in his classic Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream for Freedom (1986), this period is when Mitchell’s “vision of R&B really began to crystallize.” As Mitchell told Guralnick, “I wanted to cut a record that would sell black and white, combine the two, you know, in a pleasant kind of music. With O.V. Wright and Bobby Bland, their style was too strong in one direction, it was too rough. I wanted to add more class to it” (302). It would a be a few years before Mitchell would find that singer in the form of Al Green. (Continue reading at

Digg Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious BlinkList Furl