Mike James Kirkland is one of those forgotten soul heroes that released a masterpiece on a small label that very few people knew about or even owned. It wasn’t played on the radio, it wasn’t featured on TV or on a movie soundtrack. And if it wasn’t for the good folks over at Ubiquity Records, it might never have gotten a re-release.
As the 60′s came to a close, west coast singer songwriter Mike James Kirkland decided he wanted to make some music and inject some social commentary as well. Now keep in mind this was well before the release of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” He released a 7inch single in 1971 and the following year he dropped “Hang On In There.”
What strikes you most at first listen is how smooth and well produced this is…especially for a record cut on an indie label and recorded on a budget. But Mike James pulls it off with style and grace, and thanks to the reissue God’s you even get treated to that original 1971 7inch as well as a few other non-album cuts.
But as awesome as the bonus materials are, they are nothing compared to the power of the original album. I have no problem placing this right up along side “What’s Going On” any day. I’m aware he didn’t have the resources Marvin had, which makes this album even more of a triumph.
Later on, MJK changed his name to Bo Kirklnad to keep from being confused with a new up and comer named Michael Jackson, and with Ruth Davis (of the Ikettes) released his last hit in 1976 with “You’re Gonna Get Next To Me.”
You may have heard the cover version of the title track by John Legend and the Roots…but go grab the OG and and set phasers to chill.
Bonus: The above mentioned John Legend version of the top track.