Known (or not too known as the case was) as a “best-kept secret among fans of ’60s mod and blue-eyed soul”, James Royal was an singer that never quite broke into the mainstream.
His name remains relatively unknown, but his music, albeit his solo or band work, has always maintained a highly sought after status, and many a mod collector still searches for his hidden recorded gems.
Emerging in the mid-60’s, James Royal enjoyed a decade-long career with releases on Decca, Parlophone, CBS, Carnaby and Philips. His voice, confident style and high-energy delivery should have marked him out for pop stardom, but perhaps a combination of poor choice of single A sides and just the sheer amount of competition in the field at the time overwhelmed his efforts at the time.
Until this week, I’d never heard of him, but his most famous song caught my attention the other day and it’s grown on me ever since! Call My Name could have skipped past my radar as it is quite a straight-up soul song and I’m not always partial to straight soul, but this has something that sets it aside. One of the things that really clung to me was the vocal delivery – the sheer intensity of it is pretty special and I can’t believe this didn’t take him further when it was released in 1967! I also like little touches like the choice of percussion in the verse…and the way it builds and gathers power as it goes on….It’s got a little home inside my head now!
James Royal has never been treated to an official retrospective CD compilation, but in 2017 there was actually a collection of his songs released on a collection called Called My Name! Compiled and coordinated with the involvement of James himself, Call My Name offers a cross-section of his recording career, starting with his debut in 1964 and scrolling through his four highly collectable sides for Parlophone and the cream of his prolific output for CBS between 1967 and 1970! That may be worth a check if you want to discover more.
Check it out above.