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Frederick Knight


Frederick Knight album cover

Frederick Knight's only album for Stax is one of the loneliest albums ever made.  It speaks of failure, the sense of loss, and solitude.  Of these things, Knight knew a great deal.

He was born in Bessemer, Alabama, in 1944, and spent years visiting record companies. Joe Tex's manager, Buddy Killen, helped Knight obtain an advance from Mercury for "Throw the Switch," but it was never released. Capitol issued "Have a Little Mercy," but it went nowhere. Knight looked for a career in New York, but had no luck. Eventually he returned to Alabama to work as an engineer at the Sound of Birmingham Studio.  Knight's first hit, "I've Been Lonely For So Long," was written by Posie Knight, his wife, and Jerry Weaver (although they had someone else in mind when they wrote the song).

Released in April, 1972, the single was a unique, almost bizarre, example of Southern soul, its sound gentle and resigned, not over-the-top or too deep. Knight's falsetto suggests Al Green's, but it's more whining, less serene. Unlike most soul songs, the passionate tirade of a preacher is not at the heart of the performance. Instead, Knight's voice knows the value of keeping the peace.  No drums were used on the recording session; the rhythms were made by tambourine and a stool hit with slats of wood. There is a silence imbedded even in the percussion work.