Saturday, 6 July 2013

Carl McVoy- What Am I Living For

Carl McVoy was the younger cousin of Jerry Lewis, he cut some sides for Sun Records during 1957 and 1958 most of which went unreleased. Not much information about Carl McVoy to be found, he grew up in Pine Bluff Arkansas and was deeply influenced by boogie woogie piano, some of which he showed his cousin. McVoy release his first record Tootsie for the fledgling Hi record label towards the end of 1957, according to some liner notes I found McVoy had a share in the label. He was probably best known for being a member of the Bill black Combo which he joined in 1961 although according to the liner notes from a Bill Black best of McVoy did not play with the band on the road, that role was filled by up and comers Bobby Emmons and Bobby Wood. Both of those gentleman would go on to become an integral part of American Studio's in the mid to late 60's.

In 1962 McVoy released the single What Am I Living for b/w It's a Crime, the A side was a cover of the Chuck Willis R&B chestnut originally released in 1958 on the Atlantic label. It was then covered by Conway Twitty in 1960, the contrast between Twitty's version and McEvoy's in interesting because it highlights the differences between small independent labels and a major label. Musically McVoy's version sticks closely to the original and McVoy does a solid interpretation although he lacked the power in his voice to really give the song the dramatic edge it required. It's quite possible that some of the musicians who later formed the bedrock of American studios played on the record, Tommy Cogbill and Chips Moman were both hanging around at Hi at the time, it's also possible that Reggie Young was present on guitar having just returned from a tour of duty in Ethiopia.

On the other side you have Conway Twitty's version which was recorded and released on the MGM label in 1960 and cracked the U.S top 20. Conway's version is suitably beefed up and given the Nashville treatment by his producer Jim Viennau. Conway gives one of the most soulful renditions of the song you will hear but the song has the most ghastly string arrangement you will hear. It would have been much better with either a horn arrangement or just a basic rhythm track, the song has some nice rinky rink style piano floating underneath.

Carl McVoy didn't release another 45 on the Hi label, he stayed with the Bill Black combo until the mid 60's before going into the construction industry.

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