While Jimmy Hughes' second album (from 1967) was titled Why Not Tonight?, this CD is more an expanded version of that LP rather than a straight reissue. The first ten tracks are indeed the Why Not Tonight? album in its original sequence, but it's followed by 11 bonus tracks from the same era, essentially doubling the length of the original LP and adding historical liner notes. Hughes isn't much known outside the soul collector world for anything besides his 1964 hit "Steal Away," but this is a quite solid collection of mid-'60s Southern soul. Certainly a highlight is the title track, a gospel-flavored emotional ballad that was a 1967 R&B hit. Also a hit, though it was actually Jimmy's second recording of the song, was the bluesy, brassy uptempo "Neighbor, Neighbor." There's a good mix of styles and speeds throughout the material from the original Why Not Tonight? LP, including songs by Hughes himself and the famed songwriting team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. It's soul with more imaginative, less clichéd melodic progressions than much of what was being done in the region; excellent backing arrangements that get into deep grooves without overdoing it; and fine good-natured vocals by Hughes, though it was on ballads like "Why Not Tonight" and Penn-Oldham's "I Worship the Ground You Walk On" that he was best, reaching for something more stirring. The bonus cuts include seven sides from 1965-1967 singles that are almost equal in overall quality, standouts being the arching bluesy ballad "Don't Lose Your Good Thing"Hughes' more dynamic "Time Will Bring You Back" and "It Ain't What You Got," the latter of which had an organ groove in the "Neighbor, Neighbor" mold; and the slow near-blues "Uncle Sam," which comes pretty close to antiwar commentary for a '60s soul number. Also among the extras are three previously unreleased tracks, two of them from November 1964 (the better of those being the quite nice ballad "Well Alright Girl"), and one of them being a different version of "Neighbor, Neighbor"; the final bonus cut, "Too Much," was first issued in 2009 on another Hughes compilation. Though not the flashiest singer, Hughes was a good one whose mid-'60s output is packaged in exemplary fashion with this release, and shouldn't be missed by soul fans.
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