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Clarence Carter

Biography Discography Videos



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Singer Clarence Carter exemplified the gritty, earthy sound of Muscle Shoals R&B, fusing the devastating poignancy of the blues with a wicked, lascivious wit to create deeply soulful music rooted in the American South of the past and the present. Born January 14, 1936, in Montgomery, AL, Carter was blind from birth. He immediately gravitated to music, teaching himself guitar by listening to the blues classics of John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Jimmy Reed. He majored in music at Alabama State University, learning to transcribe charts and arrangements in Braille. With blind classmate Calvin Scott, Carter in 1960 formed the duo Clarence & Calvin, signing to the Fairlane label to release "I Wanna Dance But I Don't Know How" the following year. After the 1962 release of "I Don't Know (School Girl)," Clarence & Calvin left Fairlane for the Duke imprint, renaming themselves the C & C Boys for their label debut, "Hey Marvin." In all, the duo cut four Duke singles, none of them generating more than a shrug at radio -- finally, in 1965 they traveled to Rick Hall's Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL, paying $85 to record the wrenching ballad "Step by Step" and its flip side, "Rooster Knees and Rice." Atlanta radio personality Zenas Sears recommended Clarence & Calvin to Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler, and the label issued "Step by Step" on its Atco subsidiary -- the record failed to chart, and the duo was once again looking for a label.

Backed by a four-piece combo dubbed the Mello Men, Clarence & Calvin spent the first half of 1966 headlining Birmingham's 2728 Club. One Friday night in June while returning home from the nightspot, the group suffered an auto accident that left Scott critically injured, initiating an ugly falling-out with Carter over the resulting medical bill. In the meantime, Carter continued as a solo act, signing to Hall's Fame label for 1967's "Tell Daddy," which inspired Etta James' response record, "Tell Mama." The superb popcorn-soul effort "Thread the Needle" proved a minor crossover hit, and after one additional Fame release, "The Road of Love," Carter returned to Atlantic with "Looking for a Fox," issued in early 1968. "Looking for a Fox" proved the first of many singles to slyly reference the singer's visual impairment, not to mention showcasing the libidinous impulses that dominate many of his most popular records.

But few performances better typified the emerging Carter aesthetic than "Slip Away," a superior cheating ballad spotlighting his anguished, massive baritone alongside the remarkably sinuous backing of Fame's exemplary backing band. The record was a Top Ten hit, and its follow-up, "Too Weak to Fight," also went gold, solidifying Carter's newfound commercial appeal. He ended 1968 with a superbly funky Christmas single, the raunchy "Back Door Santa," in addition to mounting a national tour featuring backing vocalist Candi Staton, who later became Carter's wife as well as a soul star in her own right.

The percolating "Snatching It Back" was Carter's first Atlantic release of 1969 -- its B-side, a remake of James Carr's deep soul classic "The Dark End of the Street," remains one of the singer's most potent efforts, drawing on traditional blues and gospel to explore both the absurdity and anguish of infidelity. Subsequent singles including "The Feeling Is Right," "Doing Our Thing," and "Take It Off Him and Put It on Me" were only marginally successful, but in 1970 Carter returned to the Top Ten with the sentimental "Patches," his biggest hit to date. He nevertheless stumbled again with a run of 1971 releases like "Getting the Bills" and "Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love," and in the wake of "If You Can't Beat 'Em" -- a duet with Staton -- Carter left Atlantic in 1972, returning to Fame with "Back in Your Arms Again."

Released in 1973, the leering "Sixty Minute Man" proved a novelty hit, but in 1975 he attempted to reignite his career at ABC, releasing "Take It All Off" and "Dear Abby" to little notice. By the end of the decade Carter was relegated to small independent labels like Future Stars and Ronn, and in 1980 signed to Venture for the ill-advised "Jimmy's Disco" and "Can We Slip Away Again?" In 1985 he resurfaced on the fledgling Ichiban label, returning to the ribald deep soul of his heyday -- the LP Dr. C.C.earned positive reviews and spawned the hilariously lewd "Strokin'," a major word-of-mouth hit. (A sequel, "Still Strokin'," followed in 1989.) Carter continued recording and touring regularly into the 21st century, maintaining a strong fan base throughout the South.

-- Jason Ankeny of All Music Guide.

Slip AwaySlip Away
Too Weak to FightToo Weak to Fight

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1968This Is Clarence Carter
1969The Dynamic Clarence Carter
1971What Your Love Means To Me
1973Sixty Minutes
1976Heart Full Of Song
1977Lets Burn
1981Mr. Clarence Carter: In Person
1985Messing With My Mind
1987Hooked On Love
1989Touch Of Blues
1990Between A Rock And A Hard Place
1992Have You Met Clarence Carter . . . Yet?
1994Dr. C. C.
1994Live! With The Dr.
1995I Couldn't Refuse
1996Carter's Corner
1997Too Weak To Fight
1999Bring It To Me
2001Live! In Johannesburg
2003All Y'all Feeling Alright
2005One More Hit


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1968 This Is Clarence Carter

01. Do What You Gotta Do
02. Looking For A Fox
03. Slippin' Around
04. I'm Qualified
05. I Can't See Myself
06. Wind It Up
07. Part Time Love
08. Thread The Needle
09. Slip Away
10. Funky Fever
11. She Ain't Gonna Do Right
12. Set Me Free

1969 Testifyin'

01. Bad News
02. Snatching It Back
03. Soul Deep
04. I Smell A Rat
05. Doin' Our Thing
06. You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure
07. Instant Reaction
08. Making Love(at the end of the street)
09. The Feeling Is Right
10. Back Door Santa
11. I Can't Do Without You

1969 The Dynamic Clarence Carter

01. I'd Rather Go Blind
02. Think About It
03. The Road Of Love
04. You've Been A Long Time Comin'
05. Light My Fire
06. That Old Time Feeling
07. Steal Away
08. Let Me Comfort You
09. Look What I Got
10. Too Weak To Fight
11. Harper Valley P. T. A.
12. Weekend Love
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1970 Patches

01. Willie And Laura Mae Jones
02. Say Man
03. I'm Just A Prisoner(of your good lovin')
04. Let It Be
05. I Can't Leave Your Love Alone
06. Your Love Lifted Me
07. Till I Can't Take It Anymore
08. Patches
09. It's All In Your Mind
10. Changes
11. C. C. Blues
12. Getting The Bills(but no merchandise)

1971 What Your Love Means To Me

01. All Messed Up
02. Heart Full Of Song
03. Danger Point
04. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
05. That's What Your Love Means To Me
06. Come Back Baby
07. I Thought It Was Over
08. Don't Bother Me

1973 Sixty Minutes

1974 Real

1976 Heart Full Of Song

1977 Lets Burn

01. Jimmy's Disco
02. Let's Burn
03. Scratch My Back
04. If I Stay
05. Love Building
06. She's Out To Get Me
07. I'm So Tired Of Explaining
08. Another Night With You
09. Just Searching

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1981 Mr. Clarence Carter: In Person

01. Can We Slip Away Again
02. Use Me Any Way You Can
03. Tell Daddy
04. Those Were The Good Old Days
05. In Person
06. Try A Piece Of My Love
07. I Love You
08. If I Were Yours
09. It's A Monster Thang

1985 Messing With My Mind

01. Messing With My Mind
02. So You're Leaving Me
03. Hot Stuff
04. Fast Young Lady
05. Wrong Too Long
06. Girl From Soweto
07. Sweet Feeling
08. I Was In The Neighborhood
09. It Ain't What You Do
10. Love Me With A Feeling

1987 Hooked On Love

01. Trying To Sleep Tonight
02. Grandpa Can't Fly His Kite
03. I Can't See Myself
04. While You Were Loving Him
05. I Feel It
06. Slip Away
07. Let Me Be The Other Man
08. What'd I Say
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1989 Touch Of Blues

01. I'm Not Just Good, I'm The Best
02. All Night, All Day
03. Rock Me Baby
04. Kiss You All Over
05. Why Do I Stay Here
06. Stormy Monday Blues
07. It's A Man Down There
08. Dance To The Blues

1990 Between A Rock And A Hard Place

01. Things Ain't Like They Used To Be
02. The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
03. I Ain't Leaving Girl
04. Too Weak To Fight
05. Pickin' 'Em Up, Layin' 'Em Down
06. I'm Between A Rock And A Hard Place
07. I've Got A Thing For You Baby
08. If You See My Lady
09. Love Building

1992 Have You Met Clarence Carter . . . Yet?

01. I Can't Stand It
02. G Spot
03. Cheater
04. It's Too Late
05. I Wouldn't Do That
06. Let's Get a Quickie
07. Hot Dog
08. Hand Me Down Love
09. Did You Bring It All Back
10. How Did You Feel
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1994 Dr. C. C.

01. Dr. C. C.
02. I Stayed Away Too Long
03. If You Let Me Take You Home
04. Left Over Love
05. You Been Cheatin' On Me
06. Try Me
07. Let's Funk
08. Strokin'

1994 Live! With The Dr.

01. I Like To Screw
02. There Are Some Vultures
03. Don't Stop Pushing
04. Another Night
05. Dr. C. C.
06. Too Weak To Fight
07. Patches
08. Slip Away
09. Love Me With A Feeling
10. Strokin'

1995 I Couldn't Refuse

01. What Was I Supposed To Do?
02. You're Messin' With My Mind
03. If Only
04. Another Night With You
05. Slip Away Again
06. I'm So Tired Of Explaining
07. I Was In The Neighborhood
08. I Couldn't Refuse
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1996 Carter's Corner

01. Sugar Daddy
02. I Know I Got To Do Better
03. Hen House Ways
04. Takes Only A Minute
05. Just Don't Get Caught
06. Forget This
07. You Were Not Here
08. Moving In
09. I Don't Belong

1997 Too Weak To Fight

01. Patches
02. Easy
03. You Talk Too Much
04. Everybody Plays The Fool
05. Drift Away
06. Starting All Over Again
07. I Got A Thing About You Baby
08. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
09. Slip Away
10. Brick House
11. Back Stabbers
12. Woman Don't Go Astray
13. Lovely Day
14. Too Weak To Fight

1999 Bring It To Me

01. You Got To Grunt
02. Hand Me Down Love
03. Further On Up The Road
04. Don't Make A Fool Out Of Me
05. I Ain't Leaving Girl
06. I'm Between A Rock And A Hard Place
07. Grandpa Can't Fly His Kite
08. G Spot
09. I Wish It Was You
10. You Put Fire In My Blood
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2001 Live! In Johannesburg

01. Intro
02. Girl From Soweto
03. Looking For A Fox
04. Patches
05. Take It All Off
06. I Got Caught
07. Don't Bother Me

2003 All Y'all Feeling Alright

01. A Good Time Tonight
02. Let's Do It, Before We Get Sleepy
03. Do It To Me Again
04. I Like Your Touch
05. Let It All Hang Out
06. Open The Door To Your Heart
07. She Got Me Pumping
08. Somebody's Coming
09. Did I Do The Right Thing
10. Put Up Or Shut Up

2005 One More Hit

01. Lust In My Mind
02. All Night
03. Are You Ready For The Blues
04. A New Love
05. Forget This
06. Prove Your Love
07. You're Worth The Risk
08. Take It All Off
09. Let's Start Doing

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Graphics by YSM

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