First Listen

Forty Years Later, a Blues Legend Finally Gets His Due

Spooner Oldham’s debut solo album, Pot Luck, will be re-released this year

You may never have heard of Spooner Oldham, but you’ve definitely heard his music. His keyboard buoyed Percy Sledge’s plaintive “When A Man Loves a Woman,” kept tempo for Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” and lent churchy soul to countless other hits by stars such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, even the Drive-By Truckers. Though the Alabama musician gained industry acclaim in the 1960s as a rhythm and blues pioneer while recording in Muscle Shoals and later in Memphis, his fame has been largely limited to a cult fan following. That’s about to change.

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On September 18, Light in the Attic Records is re-releasing Oldham’s debut solo album, Pot Luck. Initially recorded in 1972, the 13-track compilation features a mix of original material and covers of some of the chart toppers Oldham has played on, revealing his skill as a songwriter and proving that he’s always been more than just a session musician. One of the album’s best discoveries is “Julie Brown’s Forest,” a moody tune about a man in love with the wrong woman that calls to mind lyrical storytellers like Eric Clapton and Levon Helm. It may not be as well known as Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” (track 10), but it, like Oldham, sure demands the same level of attention.

The album will be released on September 18 but is available for pre-order now in CD and vinyl.