High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deep..... Deeper..... Deepest! Counting Down to the Greatest Soul Ballad...Ever! (Part 2)

It's time to resume our search for The Greatest Soul Ballad
...Ever! Greatness, of course, is purely subjective. To me
a great soul ballad is one in which the vocals are rendered
with humility, sincerity and vulnerability. A great soul ballad speaks of the pompatus of love. Unlike modern R&B ballads that routinely play the sex card, the songs that I selected for this competiton don't even go there. These songs have not strayed far from gospel. Their purity is uncorrupted.
They transcend the flesh and extol a higher love.

No more stalling. Curtain's going up. I proudly present the next group of worthy contenders!

#6 "Stay in My Corner" - Dells (July 1968)

The version of "Stay in My Corner" that I entered into my Soul Ballad Hall of Fame is the 1968 expanded remake of
the Dells' 1965 R&B hit.

More is definitely better in this case. The updated version, with a six minute plus running time, became a big crossover hit for the Chicago soul group.

I remember watching the Dells perform "Stay" on The Hy Lit Show that summer. When the the robust Marvin Junior held that note on the word "baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaby" for an astounding 16 seconds (get outta town!) was enough to make Hy's sidekick Bucket Belly bust out cryin'. They should have used Marvin's voice to shatter glass in those Memorex commercials!

#5 "Human" - Tommy Hunt (October 1961)

Dell Rat Jerre's Pick to Click also happens to be one of
my all time favorite Dell songs.

"Human," a mighty northern soul ballad performed by Pittsburgh native Tommy Hunt, is rendered with so much feeling that it teeters on the fine line between gospel and secular. Dell rats had a deep respect for songs like this one.

Like "Close Your Eyes," the tender mid 50's ballad performed by the Five Keys, Tommy Hunt's "Human" was a song of great longevity on the Dell jukebox. It was still playing in heavy rotation years after its initial release. Rats packed
the dance floor and you couldn't find a dry eye in the house whenever Tommy Hunt delivered his awesome prayer within
a song.

#4 "Your Precious Love" - Linda Jones (March 1972)

Stricken with diabetes while
still in her 20's, Linda Jones courageously went on recording and performing in concert until
the very end.

During a week long engagement at the Apollo in March of 1972, Linda lapsed into a diabetic coma between shows.
She was rushed to the hospital and died at the age of 27.

Linda sounded relaxed and natural on the Shady Dell classic "Hypnotized," but she could not hide her pain in her later recordings. It came through in her voice and singing style.

Nowhere is Linda's suffering more apparent than on her deep soul classic "Your Precious Love," a cover of the old Jerry Butler hit that was released as a single the month of Linda's death. The song begins as a quiet storm and then suddenly escalates into a furious Cat. 5 huricane of intense emotion!

It's hard for me to listen to this song. I find it disturbing.
But news flash - that's what deep soul is all about: pain
and suffering, stoicism, courage, hope, peristence and perseverance.

The songs introduced so far are all great soul ballads, but there are a select few that that I consider even greater. When the countdown resumes, I'll present the deepest three and reveal my pick as the Greatest Soul Ballad...Ever!

Have a Shady day!


  1. My favorite on this page is Tommy Hunt singing "Human". Beautiful. My husband looked him up and saw he sang, "I Only Have Eyes for You," with the Flamingos. I've always liked that one too.

  2. Within seconds the power and the glory of "Human" sends a tingle down my spine and puts a tear in my eye. It's a trite expression but it applies here. They really don't make them like this anymore, the song or the singer! Thank you very much for your comment, Belle!

  3. As you know, Human is my all time favorite Dell song. I also liked the Dells, but liked Why Do You Have to Go slightly better. Jerre

  4. That's three votes
    for Tommy Hunt.
    That's enough.
    Tommy, grab your torch.
    The tribe has spoken.
    Thanks for your comment, Jerre!


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