“Cry baby, cry baby, cry baby / Honey, welcome back home.” Janis Joplin, right? Yes, but years before Janis Joplin would stamp her rock chops on “Cry Baby”, soul singer Garnet Mimms would land the biggest hit of his career with the song. Mimms is by no means an household name; his career is one that underappreciated by all means. That said, compilation The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles reintroduces and introduces to many just how magnificent Mimms is.
“Cry Baby” rightfully commences Looking For You. Again, while the oft-referenced Joplin version is associated as the ‘definitive’ recording, Mimms’s original is gritty, filled with passion and raw energy. There is no question of genuineness or authenticity – the tears should be rolling down the cheeks. “Don’t Change Your Heart” follows compellingly, keeping love at the forefront. “Don’t Change Your Heart” shows more poise than “Cry Baby”, but that doesn’t keep Mimms from digging in. “Baby Don’t You Weep”, like “Cry Baby” finds Mimms giving his all, incorporating gospel vocal cues into his performance, elevating the intensity. “Baby Don’t You Weep” epitomizes the ‘devilish’ spirit of vintage R&B when it was first developing; clearly influenced by the church, yet ultimately secular.
“Baby Don’t You Weep” is one of many records recorded by Mimms that is either apologetic or finds the soul veteran essentially promising ‘the world’ to his lady. Mimms plans atonement for the weeping he inflicted on the apologetic “I’ll Make It Up to You”, where he begs her to take him back – you can sense he’s be in the doghouse. Fittingly, or maybe ironically, “It Was Easier to Hurt Her” serves as the companion cut to “I’ll Make It Up to You”: “It was easier to hurt her / that’s what I thought was being a man.” Even so, his regret is perceptible. On the fantastic “I’ll Take Good Care of You”, the modus operandi is much the same: man screws up a good things, wants the woman back, vows to be a better man. Old-school it may be, but the scenario is as vicious a circle as ever will be.
Listening to Mimm’s music, orchestration and production plays a big role to the overall success. “Anytime You Want Me” for example is a good, old-fashioned six-eight slow jam with vintage soul cues: female backing vocals, piano, and guitar. “One Girl” represents classicism at its best with biting horns and emotional strings. Once more orchestration, not to mention Mimms’ golden pipes, once more shines on “Look Away”, thanks to its Mexican music influence via mariachi sound. “Look Away” reminds the listeners how distinguished the musicianship of vintage and traditional soul was. It’s a rarity to hear the vibraphone featured in “More Than a Miracle”.
Chivalry is a pronounced theme centric to this collection; the majority of the songs are motivated by emotional connections and respecting women. Even when Mimms doesn’t do so as on the aforementioned “It Was Easier to Hurt Her”, he does so regretfully. “One Woman Man” finds Mimms showing his emotional investment, chivalrously praising his love interest for the kind of person she is. On “Welcome Home” the authenticity of love is unquestionable, as an exuberant Mimms is incredibly thankful for his woman being back. On “That Goes to Show You”, Mimms spits the truth, telling guys everywhere, “A good loving women will pick you up when you falling down.” “For Your Precious Love” cannot be omitted, where Mimms is the upmost believer in true love.
‘Novelty’ is another way to characterize some of the records from Looking For You, with “A Little Bit of Soap” representing such a moment. In modern times, “A Little Bit of Soap” could be likened to a schmaltzy, corny record that’s fun, but lacks seriousness or substantial depth. That’s not to say Mimms was being disingenuous or lacked the least bit of authenticity, it’s a song that is what is: fun and silly. “So Close” is another example of novelty, given its tongue in cheek vibe. It’s not as pronounced obviously, but like “Soap” bears that old school, cutesy quality. Then there’s “Prove It to Me”, where for once, Mimms shifts the focus from him being the chief among romance’s stalwarts and puts the burden on the lady.
All in all, The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles is a superb compilation from a terrific, highly underrated soul musician. There is no doubt that Garnet Mimms has as many chops of his more celebrated contemporaries: he dots all the I’s and crosses all his T’s. While it can be argued that this compilation lacks few distinct moments aside from gems like “Cry Baby” or “I’ll Take Good Care of You”, there is little if any separation from one track to the next, which is a testament to both Mimms’ consistency and artistry.