07 April 2013

Only in Melbourne (3) Al Wilson - Do What You Gotta Do (1968)

Only in Melbournetracks that didn't chart Top 40 in their countries of origin but did better in the capital of my home state, Victoria. See also: Only in Oz.

3. Al Wilson - Do What You Gotta Do
(Jim Webb)
USA 1968 

Soul City single (USA) #761.
Liberty single (Australia) #LYK-2111

Liberty single  (UK) #LBF 15044
Australian charts: #12 Melbourne (Ryan), #23 Melbourne (Guest) (#38 Australia).

Do What You Gotta Do has been recorded by many, but Al Wilson's version was the one I heard on Melbourne radio in 1968, and it remains the definitive version for me.

I probably heard it on 3XY which had recently switched to a pop format. If 3XY was pushing it, that might explain why it doesn't rate so highly on the chart collated by Tom Guest, whose data is purposely weighted in favour of the highest rating Melbourne station at that time, 3UZ.

Among Al Wilson's songs, Do What You Gotta Do hasn't always been easy to find. His four Billboard Top 40 hits appear often on compilations, especially The Snake (1968, #27 USA) and Show And Tell (1973, #1 USA), the songs he is perhaps best remembered for.

Once again, a song that sounds to me as if it should have been a big worldwide hit, but even in Australia, Melbourne was apparently the only city where it made an impact. A beautiful Jim Webb composition, produced by Johnny Rivers, it has everything: smooth, wistful soul vocals by Wilson - strong but gentle, sad but collected - and a flawless arrangement, with strings and horns by Marty Paich.

It was first recorded by Johnny Rivers himself, on his album Rewind (1967), and other musicians clearly appreciated the composition. Larry's Rebels had a #6 hit version in New Zealand in 1968, and at my page about the song I also list 1968 versions by Nina SimoneBobby VeeClarence CarterPaul Anka, and Ronnie Milsap, as well as later versions by B.J. Thomas (1970), Roberta Flack (1970), Tom Jones (1971) and Linda Ronstadt (1993). A version by The Four Tops charted #11 in the UK in 1969.

Chart positions from Gavin Ryan's Melbourne chart book, and Tom Guest's Thirty Years of Hits 1960-1990: Melbourne Top 40 Research