Soul Men: Sam & Dave's Finest

Sam & Dave in 1968
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dave Prater got his first real experience of being part of a musical unit when he joined his brother J.T. in the aforementioned group, who found success with the single “Lord Teach Me.” Meanwhile, Sam Moore first found success as part of the group The Majestics, and while the group’s 1954 single “Nighty-Night” was not a smash hit, being part of The Majestics undoubtedly proved to be a learning experience for Moore, one which helped him immeasurably when he joined forces with Prater.

After the twosome teamed up, Sam & Dave released two singles on Marlin Records, after which label owner Henry Stone helped them score a deal with Roulette Records. Although six singles found no more than regional airplay, they scored enough notice that when Stone also introduced the duo to Jerry Wexler, he signed them to Atlantic.

The result? Some of the greatest hits in soul history - including these classics!

“You Don’t Know Like I Know” (1965): When this single became the highest new entry on Billboard’s R&B chart in its first week of release, it was clear that Sam & Dave had something special going on, not least of which was a song penned by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Although it barely made a dent on the Hot 100, stalling at No. 90, it provided Moore and Prater with their first Top 10 soul hit, climbing to No. 7.

“Hold On, I’m Comin’” (1966): Another Hayes/Porter joint, this track ended up getting an alternate title after some folks complained about its suggestive nature, hence some 45s bearing the title “Hold On! I’m a Comin’.” (It was allegedly inspired by Hayes trying to get Porter to return to the studio while he was stopping to use the men's room!) Whatever you want to call it, the song became the duo’s first Top 10 pop hit, making it to No. 9, and it provided with them with their first chart-topper on the R&B singles chart.

“Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” (1966): We’ve got no explanation as to why this song, which was a hit at the time of its original release, doesn’t get mentioned very often as one of Sam & Dave’s best, but it definitely is. It was the guys’ third Top 10 R&B hit, hitting No. 8.

“You Got Me Hummin’” (1967): Another Hayes/Porter tune (are you noticing a trend here?), this song was actually a bigger hit on the pop charts for Cold Blood than it was for Sam & Dave – the latter hit No. 77, the former hit No. 52 – but it was yet another Top 10 R&B hit, making it to No. 7. (It was also an extremely minor hit for psych-rock group The Hassles, featuring a teenaged Billy Joel.)

“When Something Is Wrong with My Baby” (1967): So you’ll never guess who wrote this one...and, no, it’s not a trick question, it really was another Hayes/Porter composition! This one was a No. 2 R&B hit, and it’s had some pop culture fame as well, popping up on soundtracks everywhere from 1995’s Dead Presidents to 2017’s Baby Driver.

“Soothe Me” (Live) (1967): This live version of Sam & Dave’s classic track was recorded in Paris while the duo were part of the Stax/Volt Revue, which toured throughout Europe and also featured Booker T & The MGs, the Mar-Keys, Eddie Floyd, Carla Thomas, Arthur Conley, and Otis Redding. Not a bad lineup, eh?

“Soul Man” (1967): Maybe you know it from The Blues Brothers’ famous version, maybe you know it because of the extremely-dated C. Thomas Howell film, or maybe you remember the original version. Whichever version you know, though, it was Sam & Dave who did it first, and just about anyone who’s ever covered it wouldn’t hesitate to say that Sam & Dave did it best.

“I Thank You” (1968): Sam & Dave’s final single on Stax Records, but still one of their most iconic, the song hit No. 4 on the R&B chart and No. 9 on the Hot 100. Of course, it found later life in the ‘70s when ZZ Top covered it on their Deguello album, bringing it to a whole new audience, and it’s been covered a dozen or more times since, with versions turning up by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Tom Jones to Phil Vassar.

“Soul Sister Brown Sugar” (1969): Sam & Dave scored their final Top 20 hit on the R&B Singles chart with this song by – what’s this?! – Isaac Hayes and David Porter, who also served as producers on the track. It’s also notable for being the last substantial pop hit for the duo, climbing to just one spot under the Top 40 before beginning its descent.

“Don’t Pull Your Love” (1971): You probably know this song, but it’s even more probable that you know it from the Top 10 version released by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. The same year, however, Sam & Dave released their own version, which climbed to No. 35 on the R&B singles chart, providing them with the last Top 40 soul hit of their career.

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