Various Artists, Cover Me: The Eddie Hinton Songbook (Ace)

In reissuing the crème de la crème from Eddie Hinton’s catalog, Ace has again mined the Muscle Shoals music catalogue. A talented songwriter, producer and guitarist, the late Hinton might not be as acclaimed as others in his peer group such as Dan Penn and Sooner Oldham, but he accounted for several classics. The number of big-name artists included in this collection—Aretha Franklin, The Box Tops, LuLu, Percy Sledge, Mink Deville and Cher, among others—proves how well respected he was as a songwriter.

cover-meInterestingly, while the 1971 title track “Cover Me” sung by Jackie Moore is epic, it pales in comparison to Percy Sledge’s intoxicating hit version. (I once got in a Budweiser-fueled debate with my buddy ‘The Nuge’ about which was the greatest soul song ever. After the second round, we both came to the conclusion that “Cover Me” just might be that song.) Another song Hinton targeted for Sledge was the telling “It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright.” Again Sledge’s hit version is passed over in a trade-off with Hinton’s tear-inducing original demo.

Adept at writing material from a woman’s perspective, Candi Staton’s “Sure As Sin” especially stands out. Granted, Staton has never made a bad record—even her disco LPs were appealing—but she was especially adept at handling material dealing with infidelity. The funky soulfulness of 1974’s “Every Natural Thing” was the perfect vehicle for Aretha. Hard to believe Atlantic never released this as a single.

A Hinton composition which did get released on a single was the sultry “Breakfast in Bed,” voiced by the UK’s Dusty Springfield—Jerry Wexler thought the song would be a good fit for Springfield when she came to Memphis to record.

On a somewhat local note, one-time Quarter resident Willy Deville recorded “Help Me Make It,” which appeared on the acclaimed 1981 LP Coupe De Grace. Other Hinton compositions especially worth mention are Oscar Toney Jr.’s version of “Down In Texas,” “Where’s Eddie” by LuLu, “300 Pounds of Hongry” by Tony Joe White, “Satisfaction Guaranteed” by Judy White and “Seventeen Year Old Girl” “Too old to spank, too young to be the milkman’s wife” by Mickey Buckins.

This is a superior collection that was well thought out with a wonderful informative presentation. Even listeners with a passing interest in classic soul will dig Cover Me a fitting tribute to a brilliant, yet underrated songwriter.