Quiet how a collection of guys from Hartlepool can create the sound, and emotional resonance, of the very best soul music from early 1970s Sheffield, Alabama, Muscle Shoals is a question that may take a lot of time to answer. But seeing as though I’ve only got 300 words, and a deadline, here’s my brief attempt.
Music fans don’t always like to single out the front person when they talk about what makes certain pieces of music stand out. It’s a bit like singling out a centre forward in a successful football team; we all know they’re important but without a decent team around them they’d not perform as well. Or at least that’s the liberal, and accepted way, of giving praise to a team dynamic.
Given the complexity of ‘My eyes’ musical architecture, it’s certainly true that all of the Endeavours play a part in the success of this record, both in arrangement and song writing, yet you can’t get away from the fact that it’s frontman Tony Skillbeck who delivers the type of performance transforms a track from very good into soul gold.
Passionate, complex and emotive, Skillbeck’s vocal range provides the emotional heart to a record which explores the journey from love at first sight, to the ultimate realisation of knowing that no matter how hard you try, you can’t always get what you want. It’s a committed performance which brims with the reality of love and it’s ability to trigger multiple, contradictory, emotional refrains at the same time.
Soulful beyond expectations, My Eyes is maybe the most effecting piece of American soul to come out of the North East since The Animals. Brilliant stuff.