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Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson racked up a string of uptown New York soul monsters on Scepter’s subsidiary label Wand in the early 60s, but by 1967, the vastly experienced Jackson, who’d started out with the legendary doo-wop group, The Del-Vikings, in the late 50s, and also cut memorable duets with Maxine Brown and Doris Troy, was casting around for a new billet.

His old friend Smokey Robinson had been urging him to sign with Motown, and heading for Detroit must have seemed a commercial no-brainer. Artistically, though, it didn’t quite come off.


Perhaps it was because they kept getting him to sing covers of Temptations and Four Tops songs, which induced him to strain his weathered baritone for effect, coming on like a third-rate David Ruffin.

But when he worked with Smokey Robinson, the results weren’t much better. His gravelly tones just didn’t fit the youthful bouncy Motown sound.

Jackson was a strange hybrid. At one level, an inveterate soul shouter, at another a cabaret-style sophisticate, a lover man still decked out in a swish tuxedo.

But not all of his work with Motown is forgettable. His original version of Jimmy Webb’s Honey Come Back (Webb was signed to Motown’s publishing arm, Jobete) was classic Jackson. And the last of the three albums he cut in Motor City, Teardrops Keep Falling In My Heart, is worth a spin – Let Somebody Love Me, Is There Anything Love Can Do? and covers of Rainy Night In Georgia and The Thrill Is Gone at last allowing him to showcase his urbane versatility.

But Jackson was on his way again by 1970.