Jimmy Barnes Soul Searchin hi-res album artwork



“She’s Looking Good” is the first song on this album and the last song I recorded for it. I wanted something of this tempo because a lot of the record has a deep groove on it, so I wanted something that was up and something that stomped. This was originally by Rodger Collins but the version I knew was by Wilson Pickett, who is my favourite singer in the world. Wilson could scream the phone book and I would buy it – he’s just unbelievable. I found this song only about six months back and it was a song of Wilson’s that I’d never heard before. I thought I knew everything he’d ever done. It’s a stomper, it’s a great way to open a record and I can’t wait to do it live.


“Hard Working Woman” is a song by Otis Clay, a singer that I think is very, very underestimated. I actually sang another Otis Clay song on The Rhythm & The Blues  – “That’s How It Is When You’re In Love”.  This guy reminds me a lot of Otis Redding. He’s sort of a hybrid of a few of the different great soul singers.

I love the grooves, I love the guitar parts on it. It’s relentless – it drives at you.


“A Woman Needs To Be Loved” was brought to the table by Kevin Shirley. I hadn’t heard this song before. Tyrone Fettson originally did it. Kevin Shirley was looking out for songs through his contacts in Nashville and Memphis and he turned up and said, “I’ve got this one song I want you to hear.” It’s very, very bluesy, very soulful and intense. Once I’d sung it once, I felt like I’d been singing it my whole career.

  1. CRY TO ME

“Cry To Me” is a song I heard and I presumed it was a Solomon Burke song. I remember a couple of years back I was doing the Byron Bay Blues Festival and we were on the same night as Solomon Burke and he was so big by that point that he couldn’t walk and he was carried in on a throne. From the minute the set started until it finished, it just wailed. One of the most awesome singers I’ve ever heard. So he sang this and I thought he wrote it, but it was written by Bertie Berns and I think it’s one of the catchiest songs on the record.


“If Loving You Is A Crime” is a song that was done by a guy named Lee Moses. I don’t know where Lee Moses had been hiding, I don’t know why he’s not a household name. Unbelievable singer. He’s one of my new favourites and I’m really happy to do one of his songs. But the extra bonus with this song is that I wanted to get some players who’d played on the original soul sessions and The Memphis Boys are such great players. The groove is so great and the song itself is phenomenal.


“It’s How Good You Make It” was done by Laura Lee. She was a Detroit singer and I really liked her voice. This is another song that was played to me by Pierre Baroni. I’d heard the song before in passing but I didn’t know who it was. It’s a great soul song, great groove and I’m a huge fan of Laura Lee’s now. There’s a whole catalogue of her songs out there that I’m waiting to get a chance to sing, but we’ll see what happens.

  1. I WORSHIP THE GROUND YOU WALK ON featuring Steve Cropper

This song was a bit of a dream come true for me. I was doing a song by a guy named Dan Penn – Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, great songwriters, they were part of the Stax band, they wrote “Never Loved A Man” for Aretha Franklin. Kevin knew Dan and he got Dan to come into the studio and he was such a cool character. These guys wrote so many great songs together and we didn’t realise that we’d picked three of them. We thought we were doing one of them, “I Worship The Ground You Walk On”, and we recorded this with Steve Cropper playing guitar – it was one of the great moments. We finished recording this song and we were like, “Okay, we better keep working, why don’t we do this song.” And Dan was sitting there quietly in his overalls and he said, “I wrote this one, too.” We finished that and were onto our third song for the day and he’s like, “I co-wrote this one.” So this guy has written everything. And Steve Cropper does a great solo on this – I’m great fan of his.


This is the song by Lee Moses that I used to hear it constantly at Cherry Bar in Melbourne. Pierre Baroni is a DJ there and whenever he puts the 45 of this song on the turntable, the dancefloor is suddenly full of girls. So when I was going to do this record, Pierre sent me a list of songs that he thought would be good and “Bad Girl” was on it and it’s such a screaming, tearing song to sing. It’s a heart-wrenching song about a two-timing girl and a gullible guy. I sang it once and we got it.


When I first heard this song I thought, “Why isn’t this a smash hit?” It was written and performed by a guy named Sam Dees who was a singer and piano player from Birmingham, Alabama. And Sam Dees sings beautifully, writes really great songs. Unfortunately he’s six-foot-six and cross-eyed, he didn’t quite look right and it didn’t get the airplay. The moment I heard it I thought it sounded like a great ’60s Motown soul song and it just hadn’t been touched. And these were the sorts of songs I was searching for.

  1. THE DARK END OF THE STREET featuring Dan Penn

This was the song that Dan Penn came into the studio for, one of our trilogy of Dan Penn songs. I wanted him to sing with me because he’s a great singer in his own right. So I had the honour of doing a duet with Dan Penn on one of his songs and it was so great. He was the coolest cat in the world, no pretensions, and he sat back and said, “You’re doing well – I love the way you’re singing my songs.” It was such a pleasure to sing with him.


This is a Don Covay song, and has been recorded a few times – the Stones had a hit with it at one stage and funnily enough Jimi Hendrix played on the original version as a session musician. It’s one of the great groove songs of all time, different to anything else on the record. It hops, it’s fun, it’s just got a great guitar riff. It’s a song I’ve heard forever and to be honest I don’t know how I missed it on my earlier soul records.


I thought this song was written by Arthur Alexander, who was this great singer who sang the original. But while we were in the studio and we said, “Okay, let’s move on and do this song – ‘Rainbow Road’” … And Dan Penn leaned in and said again, “I co-wrote this one, too.” It was incredible! It’s a beautiful song about a guy coming from the wrong side of the tracks, getting a bit of a break, having the whole world at his feet, and letting the whole thing slip away. It’s something I came close to myself. I came from the bad end of town, I grew up tough and there’s been many a time where everything I valued, everything I’ve worked for, has come close to slipping from my grasp. So it’s a song I related to very much. And it’s a beautiful song to sing, a lovely set of lyrics.



“I Testify” is another great song by Otis Clay who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite singers. Sadly he died at the start of this year. He was with a label called One-Derful! out of Chicago in the mid-’60s and recorded some amazing songs. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from him. So it was just a pleasure singing another one of his songs.


“Mustang Sally” is probably one of the most famous Wilson Pickett songs. I love “Mustang Sally”. It’s a song I wanted to cut for the Soul Deep record but we’d already done so many songs that we didn’t do it. Then while I was waiting to release Soul Deep in 1991, “Mustang Sally” came out for The Commitments and suddenly that was the version everyone knew. So I’ve had to wait 25 years to do “Mustang Sally”. I hope it’s good!!!

  1. MORE AND MORE with The Memphis Boys

This was a song I’d never heard before. It was originally done by Little Milton, who was on Chess Records. It reminds me of the bridges that were made when white people started doing soul music in the ‘70s. In some ways it sounds like Little Milton and it also sounds like Blood Sweat & Tears. I like that fusion, I like to see how the music moves from the black areas of southern America and into white parts of New York and then on to Australia. This song is part of that journey, I think.


“Drowning In The Sea of Love” was recorded by Joe Simons. It was a song that Kevin Shirley found. He’d been researching lots of blues and soul songs and working with guys like Joe Bonamassa. I just loved the melodies in it. The song has balance between blues and soul – they’re very closely related obviously, but this song straddles them both really, really well.


Another Wilson Pickett classic. “Midnight Hour” has been so well know for so long that I’ve had doubts about doing it the last three records, but at this point, I can’t do a final soul record without acknowledging  “In The Midnight Hour”. It’s one of the great songs to sing. And again, any chance I get to sing a Wilson Pickett song, I’m in.

  1. IN A BROKEN DREAM featuring Joe Bonamassa

This song I heard when it first came out in 1972 and it was a minor hit for Rod Stewart. It was a song written by an Australian, a Melbourne keyboard player named Dave Bentley, who had a band called Python Lee Jackson, and they met Rod Stewart in London and asked him to sing it. And Rod sang this demo and it’s one of the all-time great bits of singing, it’s magic. I just love it and I’ve always wanted to sing it. For me it sounds like an acid-rocky soul blues song and I wanted a great guitar player on it. I’ve become good mates through Kevin Shirley with Joe Bonamassa. I think some of the guitar playing on this track from Joe is mind-blowing.

  1. YOU GOT MY MIND MESSED UP with The Memphis Boys

“You Got My Mind Messed Up” is another song I recorded with The Memphis Boys who were Elvis’ band and played on lots of his famous stuff. It was a song by a singer called James Carr released through American Studios in about 1966. This is the third song we did on the day with The Memphis Boys. Getting three songs from a band when the guys are 80 years old … and they just wanted to keep going. They knew the track immediately and it’s probably one of my favourite songs on the record.

  1. SUSPICIOUS MINDS with The Memphis Boys

I was in Nashville, I was next to the studio where Elvis recorded “Suspicious Minds”, I was playing with the band that Elvis used to record “Suspicious Minds”. And I wanted to cut something else with this band and Kevin Shirley suggested “Suspicious Minds”. It’s a song that I love, it’s iconic and it terrified me to tackle it because there are so many versions out there. It’s hard to go past the Elvis version, but Kevin Shirley said to me if you want to do some soul searching, listen to this – and he played me the original by a guy called Mark James. I thought Elvis had done the definitive version. The Mark James version has exactly the same parts with exactly the same harmonies and exactly the same strings parts, but not quite as well produced. I realised Elvis had done some of his own soul searching and taken this song. So I wanted to tip my hat to Elvis – he was the king of rock but he was also an amazing soul singer. An incredible singer, full-stop. |
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