Since I began posting the Sisters Sing Soul podcasts a number of listeners have commented on how much they like Millie Jackson’s It Hurts So Good.The song was featured in episodes 1 and 3.In addition, the out chorus is the theme music heard at the beginning and end of each podcast.Thus ,I thought that more information about this classic deep soul ballad might be of interest to listeners.
Following the enormous success of the movie Shaft that featured Isaac Hayes’s brilliant musical score in 1972,there was a rush by the major Hollywood studios to put out their own “blaxsploitation” films.In 1973 Warner Brothers commissioned a script that would combine this genre with a martial arts element and a hot female lead.The result was the movie Cleopatra Jones starring Tamara Dobson.
Spring Records won the contract for the musical score.Millie Jackson sang two of the songs featured in the movie,It Hurts So Good and Love Doctor.It Hurts So Good was the accompaniment for Cleopatra Jones’s love scene.The song quickly soared to #3 on the R&B charts,and made it to #24 Pop.This turned out to be Millie Jackson’s greatest commercial success.
Interestingly Millie’s version of It Hurts So Good was actually a cover,and not the original. As John Ridley explains in his Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven website [sirshambling.com],it was the obscure Katie Love who first recorded the song.John says,”this version,beautifully produced by Roger Hawkins and George Soule,is arguably the best.Wand picked it up after a first issue on Muscle Shoals Sound records”. Written by the brilliant songwriter Philip Mitchell,Katie Love’s original was released in 1971.You can listen to it on the Sir Shambling site.
But,let’s get back to Millie Jackson’s far more famous version.It was produced by Brad Shapiro at Muscle Shoals Studios in Muscle Shoals,Alabama,along with Don’t Send Nobody Else,Help Yourself and Love Doctor.All four songs were included in the Spring Records album,Millie Jackson:It Hurts So Good.The album hit #13 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1973.
The original album plus six bonus tracks are available on the cd,Millie Jackson:It Hurts So Good on the Ace Records Kent Soul label.Tony Rounce’s thorough and entertaining liner notes have provided much of the material included in this article.
It Hurts So Good deserves its place as Millie Jackson’s biggest success.It’s been a favourite of soul fans ever since its release in 1973.
Episode 6 of Sisters Sing Soul featuring the incomparable Candi Staton will be released on April 27.Stay tuned for further posts in the interim.