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Album Review

More often than not, Prince Phillip Mitchell was among R&B's behind-the-scenes people — his songs were recorded by well-known artists like Norman Connors and Joe Simon, although he was never huge as a solo artist. Nonetheless, he's a talented singer who has a small following, and that is who he catered to when, at 45, he recorded Loner for the Atlanta-based Ichiban label. Although this nine-song CD came out in 1991, it often sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1970s. Loner isn't urban contemporary — it's 1970s-style soul, and Mitchell doesn't try to be relevant to the urban scene of the early '90s. There are no hip-hop beats on Loner, no attempts to appeal to new jack swing aficionados or win over Bell Biv DeVoe fans. Instead, Mitchell (who produced the album and wrote all of the songs) sounds like someone who knows his audience — a Baby Boomer soul audience — and gives fans what they want on "Starting From Scratch," "Nothing Hurts Like Love," and other sleek yet gritty originals. Although this CD was recorded in three southern cities (Atlanta, Louisville, KY, and Muscle Shoals, AL), it certainly isn't without northern influences. Loner doesn't sound like an Otis Redding or Rufus Thomas album from the 1960s; it has more in common with the albums that some Southern artists provided in the 1970s — a time that found Southerners like Johnnie Taylor and Eddie Floyd being influenced by the sleeker Northern soul that was coming out of Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit. The seductive "Come to Bed," in fact, wouldn't have been out of place on one of Teddy Pendergrass' Philadelphia International albums of the late '70s. Loner falls short of superb, but it's sincere and enjoyable.


Born: 1945 in Louisville, KY

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

A veteran composer, vocalist, guitarist, and pianist, Prince Phillip Mitchell's roots are in vintage R&B, although he's better known for soul tunes. Mitchell sang with both The Premiers and The Checkmates in the late '50s and early '60s. He was also a dancer with The Bean Brothers in Los Angeles. Mitchell had hits recorded by Mel & Tim, Millie Jackson, Norman Connors, Joe Simon, and Candi Staton, but hasn't had as much luck on his own as a vocalist. His only...
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Loner, Prince Phillip Mitchell
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