Born in Gadsden, Ala., in 1940, singing professionally at age 18, recording sporadically throughout the 1960s and '70s for Capitol and Fame and still performing today, Willie Hightower sings classic soul tunes ("You Send Me," "Somebody Have Mercy") in a voice reminiscent of Sam Cooke's rougher edges. This collection of older material, perfect with its late-night Stax-horn brigade, reflects the sound and era that brought Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas to national attention but left Hightower struggling to find his own niche. He may have no single defining moment and may be too emulative of Cooke for some though if you believe that, then Rod Stewart's career should never have existed either. But there's no denying the gorgeous vocal inflections of "Time Has Brought About a Change" or his perfect understanding of Joe South's "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." Wherever there is a lonely night, there's room for this compilation.
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