Jimmy Dobbins

immy Dobbins was christened James Brown so in seeking a career in the music business he was pretty much forced to adopt a new stage name. Although he was born in Mississippi he took the classic migration route North to Chicago where he started recording for DJ Al Benson under producer Bob Lee. His Crash 45 ListenWhat Is Love got good airplay (surprisingly enough) and was a big local seller.

It is a superb example of the sort of chugging ballad soul that came out of the Windy City in the 60s with some high voltage singing from Dobbins and a well crafted arrangement. But the labyrinthine complexity of the politics surrounding the music industry in Chicago at the time prevented a follow up and Dobbins next turned up in Jackson, MS in 1973.

His Malaco sessions that summer were initiated by drummer/producer James Stroud and between them they made some fine southern soul, all of which was written or co-written by Dobbins himself. The initial 45 coupled the bouncy "Sweet Love" whose rhythm track that harked back to "Mr Big Stuff" and "Groove Me" with the funky mid pace of "Try It Again", a version of which featured as the B Side of Billy Cee's Chimneyville release. Rather better was the next 45. This featured the superb deep soul of ListenA Quitter Never Wins which revealed Dobbins to be a really fine vocalist with some exhilarating falsetto touches. The flip was another nice jumping number called "Understanding". 

obbins final 45 featured the lively "Sugar Bear" with its very catchy rhythm and hookline. The flip was a lovely gently swaying "Wrong Road". But neither it nor any of the other releases caught the market but there were several other strong songs left in the can from the sessions. Among them was the splendid complex rhythms of "Finally", which show Stroud's technical expertise as a drummer at their impressive height, making the track a real toe tapper.

UPDATE ~ My friend Naoya has pointed me in the direction of Bob Abrahamian's excellent "Sittin' In The Park" website which contains a whole lot of playlists which majors on Bob's Chicago home territory, groups in particular. But more relevant is the wonderful series of interviews that Bob has conducted with Chicago artists. One of these is with Ray Caldwell, the "Ray" of "Ray & Dave". You can find the full interview here scroll down to 1 / 24 / 10. You really ought to listen to the whole interview - and indeed all the other interviews as well - but the key points for this page are:-

The Ray & Dave 45 and Jimmy Dobbins 45 were all cut at the same sessions at Chess studios. All 3 of Jimmy, Ray and Dave sang on all tracks (except "What Is Love" Jimmy solo), and Sugar Pie DeSanto also sang on "Little Miss Perfect"! So it was strange that 1 45 was credited to "Ray & Dave" and 1 45 credited to "Ray & Dave".

The female background singer on Jimmy's Crash 45 was Sugar Pie DeSanto!

Dobbins came from Mississippi.

Ray Caldwell wrote all the songs.

The records were released in late 1965.

I'm very grateful to Bob Abrahamian for the music qand the interviews - and to Naoya for providing me with the link.


Little Miss Perfect / ListenWhat is love ~ CRASH 426 (1966)
Sweet love / Try it agian ~ CHIMNEYVILLE 1776 (1973)
Understanding / ListenA quitter never wins ~ CHIMNEYVILLE 1781 (1974)
Sugar bear / Wrong road ~ CHIMNEYVILLE 10203 (1974)

Notes ~

1. You can find all Dobbins' Chimneyville recordings, including the unissued tracks, on the Soulscape CD "Malaco Soul Brothers Vol 2".

2. The Jimmy Dobbins on Abet is another artist altogether - he was a keyboard player not a singer and he came from the Carolinas.

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