Agony Shorthand

Friday, November 14, 2003
LET NATHANIEL MAYER TAKE YOU TO THE VILLAGE OF LOVE…..In MOJO’s relatively recent “Detroit” issue, there was a surprising piece on 60s R&B/soul loverman NATHANIEL MAYER, he of the awesome posthumous CD “Village of Love” and its stupendous, doo wop groover of a title track. “Village of Love”, the song, apparently reached #22 on the US charts in 1962, which surprised me since I’d never heard it on oldies radio (and I very much “dig” oldies radio). The 21-track retrospective CD came out in 1996 on Italy’s Gold Dust records, and is a must if you’re in need of an overview of all the high points of early 60s R&B, all performed beautifully by one dude: renaissance man Mayer. There’s 5-years-ahead-of-my-time call & response soul (“I Had a Dream”, later covered by the GIBSON BROS); jiving dancefloor killers (“Leave Me Alone” and “I Want Love and Affection [Not The House of Correction]”); and the collection’s calling card: down and out, done-me-wrong weepers (“Hurting Love”, among others), perfect for play while staring at the bottom of a beer bottle. Tim Warren at Crypt Records was hyping this in his catalog a few years ago with the graceful subtlety he’s well known for (“BUY OR DIE!!!"), and I thankfully took the bait. And wouldn’t you know it, Nathaniel Mayer’'s on the revival circuit now & absolutely knocking ‘em dead, or so Mojo claims. Then again, they say that about everything – critical distinctions and the bearing of unpleasant truths are not that particular magazine’s strong suit. Layouts, bold colors, compleat career overviews: they got that covered. Anyway, the real R&B truth lies in the “Village of Love” CD, and it was nice to see it recognized as such.