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John Gary Williams

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Before recording a 1973 solo album for Stax, John Gary Williams had been a member of the Mad Lads, who recorded singles for the label starting in the mid-'60s. The Mad Lads had a more traditional black vocal group sound than most of the other acts on Stax's roster, and had only limited success, though "Don't Have to Shop Around" was a pretty big R&B hit, stopping just shy of the Top Ten. Williams had to leave the group to serve in the military from 1966 to 1968, rejoining the Mad Lads upon his return from Vietnam and remaining in the act until they split in 1972. Shortly afterward, Williams began a solo career, producing most of his self-titled 1973 album himself, as well as writing about half the material. An average sweet soul effort paced by his high vocals, it made no commercial impact, perhaps due at least in part to Stax's own faltering fortunes at the time. Williams did manage a 1975 single on Stax's Truth subsidiary before its parent label closed down soon after its release. ~ Richie Unterberger