Walter Jackson

Listen: Deep In The Heart Of Harlem / Walter Jackson

Never reaching above #88 in the BILLBOARD Top 100, his mid chart RnB successes kept him very much out of the mainstream eye. With his thunderous, powerful baritone voice, it was hard not to notice the occasional bland, safe choices of singles from time to time.

Originally signed to Columbia in ’62, but being moved to their newly formed Okeh imprint by ’64 meant an out of jail free card was granted to him, given that label’s groovy personality.

In short, never pass up an Okeh single.

His version of ‘My Ship Is Comin’ In’ personally rivals The Walker Brothers’, which is saying a lot. Yet it’s his non-chart 7″, ‘Deep In The Heart Of Harlem’ a thematically updated version of Sam Cooke’s ‘Chain Gang’ in the message department, that stakes claim as my favorite of the Walter Jackson Okeh singles.

Despite a seemingly RnB track polished up in hopes of reaching the safe, white American adult stations, there’s no diguising the lyrical reality of the underlying message. It’s become a real period piece of 60′s struggle amongst the underprivileged.

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