Millie Jackson


Former model, Millie Jackson’s controversial singing career began professionally in 1964 at a club in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Her first recordings followed in 1970; over the next three years she made several excellent, if traditional, soul singles, which included two US R&B Top 10 entries, with ‘Ask Me What You Want’ and ‘My Man, A Sweet Man’. ‘Hurts So Good’, a song from a pseudo-feminist ‘blaxploitation’ movie, Cleopatra Jones, was Jackson’s biggest hit to date, reaching US number 24, but her subsequent direction was more fully shaped in 1974 with the release of Caught Up. With backing from the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, the tracks included a fiery interpretation of ‘(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right’. The accompaniment intensified the sexual element in her work as Millie embraced either the pose of adulteress or of wronged wife. A further collection, Still Caught Up, continued the saga, but Jackson’s style later verged on self-parody as she progressed down an increasingly blind alley. The raps became longer and more explicit, and two later albums, Feelin’ Bitchy and Live & Uncensored, required warning stickers for public broadcast.

Despite excursions into C&W and a collaboration with Isaac Hayes, Jackson seemed unable to abandon her ‘bad mouth’ role, exemplified in 80s titles such as ‘Sexercise Pts 1 & 2’ and ‘Slow Tongue (Working Your Way Down)’. Despite her strong cult following, the only occasion on which Jackson made any significant impact on the US or UK pop singles market was in 1985 when duetting with Elton John on ‘Act Of War’, which reached the UK Top 40. She continued to enjoy a string of US R&B hits, including ‘Hot! Wild! Unrestricted! Crazy Love’ and ‘Love Is A Dangerous Game’, but a creative nadir was reached with 1989’s Back To The S**t!, which featured Jackson sitting on a toilet on the front cover. In the early 90s, Jackson wrote the play Young Man, Older Woman, which with a run of four years proved more successful than her concurrent music releases. By the end of the decade Jackson had begun to establish herself as a leading radio host, with this work taking precedence over her recording career.

Millie Jackson possesses one of soul’s outstanding voices, yet sadly chooses to limit its obvious potential in favour of her trademark lewd rapping. Nearly all of Jackson’s Spring albums saw CD release in the 90s on the UK Southbound label.