Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson To Release Debut LP

“I grew up in the country, a hard working environment where your ass had to get out there and work,” laughs Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson from Phenix City, AL, a rural city deep in the Black Belt across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, GA, where the last battle of the Civil War was fought. During Jackson’s childhood, this Southeast corner of Alabama was called the Las Vegas of the South. The city’s infamous club-lined main drag became such a hotbed for organized crime there were city ordinances calling for a weekly drag of the River. Jackson was sneaking into those same clubs throughout the 60s, learning how to turn out a crowd and entertain the ladies. Now a sleepy hub city to Columbus, he finds his hometown, neighbors and country living the greatest influences on his nearly 50 year career as an entertainer and The Alabama Love Man.

Jackson began writing as a teenager and after hearing Otis and Pickett on the radio he sent a demo to Rick Hall at FAME. Hall brought Jackson to Muscle Shoals for his fiery debut recordings, christened him ‘Soul’ and released his first single in 1965. Like in the local juke joints, he watched Hall pull sounds from instruments and the angles of his studio, saw Spooner Oldham run one-take live sessions and experienced the marriage of what Jackson calls “honky-tonk” guitars and driving, church-influenced rhythms, the blueprint for southern soul. “Steve Cropper, Jimmy Johnson and the white bands playing those country licks made a lot of hit records. I was expecting to show up in Muscle Shoals surrounded by black musicians. Growing up, we were all dancing to “Hi-Heeled Sneakers” not knowing it was a country and western song.”

The overwhelming theme in Jackson’s music is the love of a good woman. “I’ve learned. Women dogged me out when I was 18, 20. I got burned, man. Finding a good, trustworthy woman of virtue takes years and when you find one, well, it makes you want to moan. They tell me “I get chills when you scream from the stage.” See, I may sing my songs from the gut but they come from my heart. I learned very early that women appreciate attention, I’m not singing for women, I sing to them.”

‘The Alabama Love Man’ is Jackson’s debut album The process began three years ago with a core group from Alabama and Chicago cutting the rhythm tracks live in Jackson’s home studio during a wicked March cold snap. Over the next couple years, overdubs and vocals were recorded in Chicago with the help of Todd Rittmann, Adam Fitz, Nellie ‘Tiger’ Travis, and members of The Drastics, Mucca Pazza, Detholz!, US Maple and Dead Rider. Not trying to recreate the magic of an era disconnected by our analog to digital world, the album captures a living document of Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson in his prime. After all, Jackson is constantly advancing his craft and he believes you’re never too old to entertain, “I’m still up at 3 AM writing songs or performing two sets or learning how to get the most out of my access to technology as an independent artist.” He understands he’s not in this alone, “The Lord gave me this gift and it’s been good to me. With him on my side I’m able too keep moving forward.”

“An unhinged talent whom latter-day louches like Nick Cave can only hope to imitate” -Ann Powers, LA Times

“Ralph “Soul” Jackson. You have to be good if they let you use that word alone as your nickname.” -Mike Wolf, Time Out NY

“On the bill was Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson, an Alabama soul man who scored regional hits recording in Muscle Shoals during the mid-1960s. Backed by Wiley & the Checkmates, Jackson was once again in the Spotlight, delivering those hits in a style that complimented his crimson suit and tuxedo shirt. Shouting, “This is the way we do it in the dirty South” Jackson turned the lawn into a dance party.” -Mark Guarino, Chicago Sun Times

“Although the wheels of fate kept Jackson from ever hitting the big time, he’s not just another oddity from the crypt. His upbeat southern soul style is as much of a floor-filler as any chart topper from Stax.” -Alison Fensterstock, New Orleans Gambit

“Jackson’s warm drawl, maneuvering between tenderness and desperation, steals the show, and fortunately for us, he’s still out there performing, ensuring that this great music is not confined to retrospection.” -Lee Bains III, Thicket

“When Jackson strode out it immediately kicked to a higher level. Here was a time-warp, slightly manic, fully fledged soul man who may have missed out on the big breaks way back when, but still has the goods when most of his brethren are dead and gone. Suddenly we were back in the golden era of Classic soul music was alive and well.” -Keith Glass, Rhythms (Australia)

“Ralph Jackson working the room like a tent-show preacher with the Devil breathing down his neck, it was hard to single out individual moments…” -John T. Davis, AUSTIN 360