Maxine Never Seemed To Be In The Right Place At The Right Ti
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Born on April 27, 1932 in Kingstree, South Carolina, Maxine started out singing gospel in the late 1950s with The Manhattens and Royaltones, both based in NY City. At age 28, by which time most singers have been well established, she landed a contract with the tiny Nomar label, and with her first release late in 1960, All In My Mind, it was evident that here was a new female R&B voice to be reckoned with. The smooth soul ballad reached # 2 R&B and stayed there for two weeks, kept from the top spot only by something called Shop Around by a group called The Miracles, who hogged the top spot for eight weeks. It also did well on the Billboard Pop Hot 100, peaking at # 19 b/w Harry Let's Marry.
In April 1961 she followed that with Funny which climbed to # 3 R&B, again finding her way blocked by a couple of pretty good songs, Mother-In-Law by Ernie K-Doe and Stand By Me by Ben E. King. And once more she did fairly well on the Hot 100, reaching # 25 b/w Now That You've Gone. This with minimal promotion. Hindsight being ten cents a pound, it might have been better for both her career and for the Nomar label had she stuck with them, but she understandably left to sign with the larger ABC-Paramount operation.
There she was confronted with material that clearly did not appeal to the greater buying public for either the Pop or R&B fields and, with one minor exception, one single after another flopped despite having the resources of the much larger company behind her. These were Think Of Me/I Don't Need You No More and After All We've Been Through Together/My Life, both in 1961, followed in 1962 by What I Don't Know/I Got A Funny Kind Of Feeling, Forget Him/A Man, My Time For Cryin'/Wanting You, I Kneel At Your Throne/If I Knew Then, Am I Falling In Love/Promise Me Anything, and Life Goes On Just The Same/If You Have No Real Objection.
Only My Time For Cryin' registered, reaching a low # 98 Hot 100 in July 1962 b/w Wanting You, and not even a re-release of All In My Mind and Funny back to back in 1962 by Wham could generate new interest. A move in 1963 to the smaller New York label, Wand, known for its uptown soul sound, didn't offer much hope at first either. Ask Me settled in at a low # 75 Hot 100 in April b/w Yesterday's Kisses, and her next didn't come until January 1964 when, with the R&B charts suspended for the better part of the next year, Coming Back To You fared even worse, just making the Hot 100 at # 99 b/w Since I Found You (for some reason known only to the producer, this CD includes that B-side while ignoring the previous four).
Later that fall she would have her best hit with Wand, the Goffin-King composition Oh No, Not My Baby, which reached # 24 Hot 100 in December b/w You Upset My Soul. Nothing after that would even make the Pop Top 40. In early 1965, by which time the R&B charts had been re-instated, she had a # 26 R&B/# 56 Hot 100 with It's Gonna Be Alright, b/w You Do Something To Me. Neither B-side is included here.
Then came three hit duets with Chuck Jackson - Something You Got (# 10 R&B/# 55 Hot 100 b/w Baby Take Me), Hold On I'm Coming (# 20 R&B/# 91 Hot 100 b/w Never Had It So Good), and Daddy's Home (# 48 R&B/# 91 Hot 100 b/w Don't Go). In 1969 she turned up with the Commonwealth United label where she had two minor hits, We'll Cry Together (# 15 R&B/# 73 Hot 100 b/w Darling, Be Home Soon in October 1969), and I Can't Get Along Without You (# 44 R&B b/w Reason To Believe. Neither are in this collection, nor are any of the three B-sides to the Jackson duets.
Much of the reason for her overall mediocre results has to be the fact that Wand and its parent label Scepter were now paying more attention in terms of promotion to rising [and younger by eight years] star Dionne Warwick.
In this compilation Rhino does a nice job both in terms of sound quality and background notes, and when it comes to the hit selections offered they omit only the ABC-Paramount and Commonwealth United sides, which might have been included, along with some or all of the omitted flipsides instead of tracks 6, 7, 15 to 18, 21 and 22 which were all failed singles.
After leaving Commonwealth-United she signed with Avco Records, but, now approaching her 40's, nothing she did there could get her back in the limelite. Too bad, really, because she had a wonderful voice and is easily THE most underrated soul and R&B vocalist of that era. Good job Rhino.