Carl Sims began performing when he was sixteen years old singer for the Original Bar-Kays back in the mid-60s. The Bar-Kays took Arthur Conley's place as opening act for the Otis Redding Revue. A plane crash in Milwaukee, Wi. in 1967 killed Otis and several of the Bar-Kays. Carl along with James Alexander the Bass Player for the group luckily took a commercial flight out of Cleveland, OH to join the group in Milwaukee, because there was no room on Otis's private plane. Carl remembers, having to identify the bodies of the Band members. After returning to Memphis along with the surviving members Ben Cauley (Trumpet player) and James Alexander what was left of the Bar-Kays went there separate ways.
Sims burst on the scene as a solo act in 1988 when his song "17 Days Of Loving" released by Edge Records became a regional hit. He hit again with "I'm Trapped" in 1993. This lead to his first full length on Paula Records in 1995, "House Of Love". The album contained the two hits (still classics today), some cover tunes (Z.Z. Hill's "I'm A Blues Man", Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come", Mckinley Mitchell's "End Of The Rainbow") and some new originals ("Shot To The Curb", "Clever Girl"). Although the album didn't chart with Billboard it reportedly sold over 40,000 copies, a great achievement for an album on a small label. This success lead to his signing with Malaco's sister label Waldoxy and later Ecko Records and CDS Records.
"House Of Love" (Paula 1995)
1. Shot to the Curb
***Sims unleashes his smoky voice on a set of good original soul cuts like his signature hit "Trapped", plus "17 Days Of Loving", "Clever Girl" & "Shot To The Curb". He also does impressive takes on Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" & ZZ Hill's "I'm A Bluesman".
"Let Me Be The One" (Waldoxy 1998)
1. Standing in the Background
"M & M Man" (Waldoxy 2001)
1. I'm Gonna Tell My Wife (And My Woman Too)
**** Dynamite modern soul blues album features improved versions of his hits "Trapped" & "17 Days Of Loving", plus new gems like the smooth title track, "I'm Gonna Tell My Wife (And My Woman Too)", a sequel to "Trapped". The production is immaculate this time with real musicians and plenty of horn-laden southern soul like George Jackson's "Bucket Of Blood" & anatomically correct "Double D". It's to Sim's credit that he can take a classic like Johnnie Taylor & ZZ Hill's "Mr. Nobody is Somebody Now" and do it justice.
"Brick House" (Entune 2003)
1. Brick House
2. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
3. I Never Had a Lover Like You
4. Where Can I Run To
5. Our Love Song
6. Don't Make Me Cry
7. Burning Candles on Both Ends
8. Beggin Baby
9. Everything's Out in the Open
10. House of Love
** 1/2 One-off album for small label had limited distribution. Some likable synth-funk like the title cut and sulty "Burning Candles". He also updates his hit "House Of Love". The horny "Never Had A Lover Like You" features a unique arrangement but Carl's take on "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" is surprisingly underwhelming.
"It's Just A Party" (Ecko 2004)
1. It's Just a Party
***1/2 The "Godfather Of Southern Soul" tag is basically the sub-title of Sims' Ecko Records debut. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant (I mean what would that make Johnnie Taylor? "Grandpappy Of Southern Soul"?) as it's just great to have a new disc by the man who scored big several years ago with "I'm Trapped". IT'S JUST A PARTY is his first disc since the obscure, hard-to-find BRICK HOUSE on Entune Records from 2002. Sims' had higher profile when he cut two albums for Malaco ("M & M MAN" is his best) but seemed to be out of the game for awhile due to Entune's scanty reach. It is a blessing that Ecko with it's stronger distribution snagged Sims. "PARTY" is the usual Ecko (mostly programmed) mix of dance party shakers, slower relationship songs and stories about cheating delivered with a sense of humor. Standouts are the upbeat "Playa Haters" which is vintage Ecko programmed ear candy party soul music that producer John Ward has mastered. This is a hit if I ever heard one. "It's Just A Party" is sure to hit radiowaves as well. There's some mediocre filler here too that keeps this from being unstoppable ("I Wanna Do Wrong With You", "I've Been Cheatin'") but that is made up for by the head-bobber "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without Without The Blues", the unique "Coochie Key" with it's steady bubbling (or burbling?) synth bassline and the gorgeous love song "I Would Be Missing You", which contains Sims' best vocal on the disc. Keep 'em coming Ecko.
"I'm Ready" (Ecko 2006)
1. I Needed a Woman
*** The man who brought you the hits "I'm Trapped", "Two Lumps Of Sugar", "M & M Man", "Burning Candles" & "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without The Blues" is back with his second release for hit machine Ecko Records. The disc wastes no time giving us a vintage Sims cut, the sugary midpaced "I Needed A Woman", the first single, hits all the right marks and is currently scooping up radio ads as I write. The hard shufflin' "It's Hard Not To Look" comes next and it's a good followup to "Juke Joint". It features some steady skins from Curtis Steele. Yes, those are live drums again on the now requisite stepper for these type o' records, "Step To The Left", which also appears as a remix. There's also some straight blues via "Mojo Hand", beach rhythm ("You Need To Change Your Ways") and some moody 70s-styled soul ("I'm A Hustler"). Naturally you also have the irresistible, percolating "Southern Soul" like "Let's Do It Together" and 'When You Got A Woman On Your Hands". Sims smoky n' soulful croon is in full force and producer John Ward has his typical Midas touch on these tracks. Hitsville bound and running all red lights.
"Can't Stop Me" (Ecko 2007)
1. If You Can't Help Me
***1/2 Though it's only been a year and a half it seems longer since we've had new Carl Sims music. Most likely because his last LP, "I'm Ready", really didn't produce any enduring hits despite having one of the year's best cuts ("I'm A Hustler"). The lone charter, "I Needed A Woman", was an inferior retread of the "Seventeen Days Of Loving" track.
"Can't Stop Me" should bring Carl back in the spotlight, however. The first single, "I Like This Place", is a solid "Hole-In-The-Wall"- themed bumper we expect from Ecko Records. "I went out to a club one night/When I got there the place was closed/I could smell food cooking so I just followed my nose/I seen this little place y'all where I'd never been/All the ladies were fine there so I paid my money and went on in" and needless to say Carl "likes this place". Why? Grown folks, cold drinks and good music. That's what party Blues is all about. The song's a hit. The best cut though is the slithering creeper "If I Could I Would", which has a few contemporary touches to the production. Carl chews this kinda melody up with his smoky voice. Another contender is the slowie "I Help My Woman", with the right-headed lyrics. "When you got someone that really loves you and does everything in her power to please ya" but "everytime she needs a little help and she asks you for a dollar/You act like you just shot yourself/Man just be real and treat her right!". Still the backing vocals here and on the other ballad "I'll Go Crazy" are weak. Next time hire a big voiced sista.
A few percussion ticks lessen the sweeping "Tell Me Where You Been All My Life" and two covers, "Daylight" and "Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone" are reduced to middling filler via pedestrian arrangements. This leaves half of a terrific disc. It's a keeper but a few more quality tracks would've made this more than a catalogue stuffer.
"Hell On My Hands" (CDS 2011)
1. Hell On My Hands
"Are You Serious?" (Soul Singer 2014)
1 Are You Serious
"The Best Of" (Ecko 2014)
1 It's Just a Party
"Living In A Rooming House, I Love You" (Aziza 2018)
Digital only release.
1 I Love You