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Soul Junction Put Jesse James Back On Top

Soul Junction Put Jesse James Back On Top magazine cover

Press Release:   Jesse James - Back On Top Again - SJLP 5016

Release Date:  Friday 24th May 2024


In the history of Black American soul music many recording artists have been called “Legends” some deservedly and perhaps some not so deserving of this current over used accolade? I might be a tad biased here, perhaps? but in my book one James Howard McCelland a.k.a Jesse James has surely earned the right to be called a “Legend” this octogenarian performer has weathered many storms and shifts in musical trends and styles over the years but like the trouper that he is albeit in lower keys these days he still manages time and time again to come up with the goods!           

“Back On Top Again” is Jesse James latest production album, a project filled with recent and current recordings in a southern soul style that has likened in passing by several respected soul scribes to the Malaco Sound I’ll let the record buying public make their own minds up on that one, I’m sure veteran DJ Bob Jones won’t mind me using his quote below:

Thank you so much David for sending me 'Back On Top'- Jesse James Album. What a production! full of super southern soul songs that really hit the spot & ooze the real deal. 

Love it Big time!   


Dr Bob Jones


The album also features two of Jesse’s friend’s with Donnie McKisic providing the rapping and additional backing vocals on the upbeat “I Lost My Baby On Face Book” and Shirley Diamond  who you may recall from Soul Junction’s recent 45 release “You Don’t Know Who You Sleeping With” (SJ1021) returning with another excellent Diamond & James duet “Another Love Lay Over”  as a further foot note the featured song “I’d Be A Fool 2 Fool Around On You” is an excellent cover version of what was a previously unissued Harvey Scales song until Soul Junction released it as the flipside their thirteenth 45 single release way back in 2011.


Album Sleeve Notes:

At the dawn of the 1960’s a young aspiring soul singer from Richmond, California by the name of James H. McClelland was honing his performing skills in several local nightclubs. At one particular show the compere struggled to pronounce the young performer’s surname and to hide his embarrassment he hurriedly introduced him as ‘Jesse James’, which became Jesse’s Stage name to the present day.

Jesse’s big break came through his aunt who at that time just happened to be dating West Coast Blues and R&B Legend Jimmy McCracklin. The aunt suggested to McCracklin the he should take a listen to her talented nephew, suitably impressed McCracklin produced Jesse on a song he’d written “I Will Go” for the local Shirley label. The release is credited to Jesse James & The Royal Aces a bunch of local musicians that Jesse had grown up with which included Slyvester Stewart a.k.a Mr “Dance To The Music” himself Sly Stone” on guitar. “I Will Go” was quite a popular record locally and led to a further four Jesse James releases on Shirley culminating in Jesse’s most sought-after record the delightful “Are You Gonna Leave Me”in 1966. 

The following year Jesse recorded the minor hit “Believe In Me Baby” released by the local ‘Hit’ label before being picked up by 20th Century for national distribution. While signed to 20th Century Jesse recorded a self-titled album and three other 45 singles before leaving the label. 

Following a solitary 45 release for the Uni Label in 1969 Jesse formed his own Production and Publishing company ‘South Richmond Music’ releasing 45’s on his own label logo’s Zea and Zay before returning to 20thCentury for a second time during 1974, releasing two 45 singles of which the sublime “If You Want A Love Affair” reaching #92 in the Billboard R&B charts in 1975, a song that would later receive worldwide acclaimed and is now regarded as Jesse’s signature tune. Ron Carson had been the producer on the later 20th Century releases and it was he that placed one of Jesse’s songs “The Same Thing Happens” on the Happy Fox label’s blaxploitation album “Black Fist”. 

Into the 1980’s Jesse leased some of his songs for release on the Atlanta Georgia, Midtown label, a solitary release on the Moonlite Hope Music label (a lead single for a proposed album that never materialised) followed before Jesse joined Max Kidd’s Washington based TTED label. The TTED imprint was to yield Jesse’s biggest hit record “I Can Do Bad By Myself” reaching #61 in the R&B Charts. Following TTED Jesse formed Gunsmoke records releasing “Love On The Side” in 1988, from there on Jesse has continued to regularly release numerous studio albums though the 90’s into the new millennium and on to the present day.

Now well into his seventh decade as a performer this most resilient and enduring performer, has never been one to let the grass grow under his feet. He still performs live shows and is actively writing, producing and recording fresh new material. Soul Junction have now gathered together some of Jesse’s most recent and new recordings to form this album project which is aptly titled “Back On Top Again” Ride on Jesse James!

Words By: David Welding

For Further information e-mail:   sales@souljunctionrecords.co.uk 

Visit Soul Junction


Track Listing: Side 1:
1. Back On Top 3:54
2. Another Love Lay Over (Featuring Shirley Diamond) 4:12
3. I Lost My Baby On Facebook (Featuring Donnie McKisic) 3:59
4. Keep It On The Hush Hush 3:46
5. Get In Touch With Me 3:48



Side 2:
1. What Happened To The Oo -Wee 4:15
2. Can I Still Be Your Friend 4:17
3. I Be A Fool 2 Fool Around On You 5:05
4. I Put A Clam On That Thang 4:27






SJLP5016FrontCover (002) copy 2.jpg




Listen: Sample #1

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