By James Calemine
Eddie Hinton died in 1995 at the age of 51. When Hinton served as the session guitarist at Muscle Shoals Studio, his work emerged on albums alongside musicians such as Duane Allman, the Staple Singers, and Wilson Pickett. Although songwriting was his grace, and many talented artists recorded his songs, Hinton remained obscure to the general public.
Hinton’s songs have been recorded by Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Womack, and Gregg Allman to name a few. Hinton operated as the guitarist for the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and recorded with Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, The Staple Singers, Elvis Presley and Otis Redding. His vocals are often compared to Otis Redding, whose wife Zelma asked Hinton to teach Redding’s children to play guitar years after their father died in a tragic plane crash. Jerry Wexler once said of Hinton: “Eddie wasn’t a master technician, but God, that boy could play some funk.”
Hinton’s previous albums such as Cry & Moan, Very Blue Highway, Letters From Mississippi, Very Extremely Dangerous and Hard Luck Guy remain proof of Hinton’s soulful songs for the underdog.
Dear Y’all is a collection of 19 previously unavailable Hinton songs. Tunes like “Build Your Own Fire”, “Dangerous Highway”, “Dear Y’all”, and Hinton’s first recording as a solo artist, “Dreamer”, stand as undeniable soul classics.
Most of these rough-cut compositions were demos for the artists who released the songs, such as “Cover Me” and “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” recorded by Percy Sledge. Bobby Womack covered a version of “Just a Little Bit Salty”; both Aretha Franklin and John Hammond recorded renditions of “Every Natural Thing” from this collection. The only cover song on the CD is a swampy take of Chuck Berry’s “Brown- Eyed Handsome Man”
The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section–Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, David Hood, and Spooner Oldham–played on most of these “songwriting sessions” aside from “Super Lover” and “Hymn For Lonely Hearts”, which were performed by Hinton’s old band, the Rocking Horses.
This essential collection is a glimpse into Hinton’s soulful insight for crafting songs, as Dear Y’all unearths more sacred gems in the rare treasures of Eddie Hinton.