Liner Note Author: Tony Rounce.
Photographer: Cliff White.
Garnet Mimms is remembered for "Cry Baby," his smash 1963 debut single. His version topped Billboard's R&B charts and went to number four pop, but it's best-remembered as the source for Janis Joplin's classic rock cover, which is a good testament to Mimms' influence, if not to the depth of his own body of work. Mimms racked up many other charting singles but they usually appeared on the pop, not R&B, charts, giving a good indication of the kind of soul he sang. He specialized in a grand, symphonic sound partway between Jerry Butler and Sam Cooke, sometimes sounding like a gutsier Chuck Jackson. Listening to Ace's 2015 compilation Looking for You: The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles, a 28-track set that contains all the As & Bs from the 14 singles he released between 1963 and 1966, his soaring voice is indeed commanding, every bit as powerful as a Jackie Wilson or Otis Redding, but it's also clear that this Philadelphia native is a creature of the east coast: the upscale productions are as towering as Mimms' voice. This reliance on majestic strings, backing vocals, and cinematic pianos means the music feels more tied to its time than the leaner Southern soul of the '60s, but it's easy to marvel at Jerry Ragovoy's huge productions, just as it is easy to wonder at Mimms' command; this may tip toward the pop end of the scale but it demands attention. Compared to EMI's 1993 disc The Best of Garnet Mimms: Cry Baby, the previous standard bearer, this has many of the same tracks -- including, of course, the hits "Cry Baby," "For Your Precious Love," "Baby Don't You Weep," "Tell Me Baby," "One Girl," "A Little Bit of Soap," "I'll Take Good Care of You," and "My Baby" -- but the emphasis on singles gives a fuller picture of Mimms' personality, showing how he remained passionate even when Ragovoy pushed him ever closer to the pop mainstream. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine