Alabama bluesman Willie Hightower released only three singles and one album during a career cut short by the shifting musical currents of the '70s. Through the years, however, his limited output has b

Alabama bluesman Willie Hightower released only three singles and one album during a career cut short by the shifting musical currents of the '70s. Through the years, however, his limited output has become a sought-after entity. You'll hear why on this 18-track compilation. The cornerstones are his two Billboard-charting R&B hits "It's a Miracle" (1969) and his funktified, let's-party cover of "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." His rough-and-ready vocals aside, Hightower's delivery frequently recalls another gospel-reared singer, Sam Cooke. But listen to how Hightower returns "If I Had a Hammer" to its original protest stance or the fall-to-your-knees chastisement of his woman on the horn-chorused "You Used Me." An original talent finally receives his due—and a lost chapter in Southern soul music is thankfully chronicled.—GM

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