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Wilson Pickett

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Of the major '60s soul stars, Wilson Pickett was one of the roughest and sweatiest, working up some of the decade's hottest dancefloor grooves on hits like "In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances," "Mustang Sally," and "Funky Broadway." Although he tends to be held in somewhat lower esteem than more versatile talents like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, he is often a preferred alternative of fans who like their soul on the rawer side. He also did a good deal to establish the sound of Southern soul with his early hits, which were often written and recorded with the cream of the session musicians in Memphis and Muscle Shoals. Before establishing himself as a solo artist, Pickett sang with the Falcons, who had a Top Ten R&B hit in 1962 with "I Found a Love." "If You Need Me" (covered by the Rolling Stones) and "It's Too Late" were R&B hits for the singer before he hooked up with Atlantic Records, who sent him to record at Stax in Memphis in 1965. One early result was "In the Midnight Hour," whose chugging horn line, loping funky beats, and impassioned vocals combined into a key transitional performance that brought R&B into the soul age. It was an R&B chart-topper and a substantial pop hit (number 21), though its influence was stronger than that respectable position might indicate: thousands of bands, black and white, covered "In the Midnight Hour" on-stage and record in the 1960s. Pickett had a flurry of other galvanizing soul hits over the next few years, including "634-5789," "Mustang Sally," and "Funky Broadway," all of which, like "In the Midnight Hour," were frequently adapted by other bands as dance-ready numbers. The king of that hill, though, had to be "Land of 1000 Dances," Pickett's biggest pop hit (number six), a soul anthem of sorts with its roll call of popular dances, and covered by almost as many acts as "Midnight Hour" was. Pickett didn't confine himself to the environs of Stax for long; soon he was also cutting tracks at Muscle Shoals. He recorded several early songs by Bobby Womack. He used Duane Allman as a session guitarist on a hit cover of the Beatles' "Hey Jude." He cut some hits in Philadelphia with Gamble & Huff productions in the early '70s. He even did a hit version of the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar." The hits kept rolling through the early '70s, including "Don't Knock My Love" and "Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number 9." One of the corollaries of '60s soul is that if a performer rose to fame with Motown or Atlantic, he or she would produce little of note after leaving the label. Pickett, unfortunately, did not prove an exception to the rule. His last big hit was "Fire and Water," in 1972. He continued to be active on the tour circuit; his most essential music, all from the 1960s and early '70s, was assembled for the superb Rhino double-CD anthology A Man and a Half. It's Harder Now, his first new material in over a decade, followed in 1999. Pickett spent the early part of the 2000s performing, before retiring in late 2004 due to ill health. He passed away on January 19, 2006, following a heart attack. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Albums by
Wilson Pickett

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    11 songs

    On Air

    It's Too Late (Digitally Remastered)

    11 songs

    On Air

    Best Soul & Rn'b

    11 songs

    On Air

    Wilson Pickett: Legends

    10 songs

    On Air

    American Legend

    11 songs

    On Air

    The Sound of Wilson Pickett

    12 songs

    On Air

    The Wicked Pickett

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Midnight Mover

    12 songs

    On Air

    The Exciting Wilson Pickett

    10 songs

    On Air

    I'm in Love

    11 songs

    On Air

    Hey Jude

    12 songs

    On Air

    In the Midnight Hour

    12 songs

    On Air

    Don't Knock My Love

    12 songs

    On Air

    Right On

    36 songs

    On Air

    The Complete RCA Studio Recordings (1973-1975)

    4 songs

    On Air

    Real Side Records Remembers - Wilson Pickett 1941-2006

    6 songs

    On Air

    Rhino Hi-Five: Wilson Pickett, Vol. 2

    5 songs

    On Air

    Rhino Hi-Five: Wilson Pickett

    10 songs

    On Air

    A Funky Situation

    2 songs

    On Air

    Baby Call On Me

    2 songs

    On Air

    If You Need Me

    2 songs

    On Air

    Don't Knock My Love [Single]

    1 song

    On Air

    Baby Don't Weep

    2 songs

    On Air

    In the Midnight Hour/I'm Not Tired

    10 songs

    On Air

    It Ain't Easy: Essential Recordings

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Top Songs by
Wilson Pickett

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   In the Midnight Hour
  3.   Mustang Sally
  4.   Hey Jude
  5.   634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)
  6.   Land of 1000 Dances
  7.   Silver Bells
  8.   Funky Broadway
  9.   I'm a Midnight Mover
  10.   Jingle Bells
  11.   She's Lookin' Good
  12.   Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You
  13.   I'm in Love
  14.   Don't Knock My Love, Pt. 1
  15.   Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won't Do)
  16.   Don't Fight It
  17.   Bring It on Home to Me
  18.   Engine Number 9
  19.   Believe I'll Run On
  20.   You Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover
  21.   I Need a Lot of Lovin'
  22.   If You Need Me
  23.   Let Me Be Your Boy
  24.   I Found a Love
  25.   Barefootin'
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Wilson Pickett

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    Little Deuce Coupe

    On Air

    Covered: The Beatles

    On Air

    Old-School BBQ

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    Whitney Houston Tribute

    On Air

    Classic Soul

    On Air

    Sweating to the Oldies

    On Air

    James Brown: DNA

    On Air

    Funk Classics

    On Air

    A Very Soulful Christmas