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Jimmy Hughes: Return Of A Lost Soul Classic

Alabama native Jimmy Hughes makes a strong all-around case for himself in "I'm Qualified," his first single from way back in the day (that would be 1964), now revived on The Best of Jimmy Hughes and the reconstituted Fame label.

The single wasn't as big a hit as Hughes' follow-up, "Steal Away." But his first effort is, its own way, a lost soul classic. A superior example of a rhythm-and-blues waltz, the song serves up three danceable beats per measure and a great instrumental setting. A baritone sax slides up and down a chromatic run, an organ echoes the melody with playful twists and, in a touch that seems right out of vaudeville, a big old drum intones, "Boooing." Hughes sings straight from the heart in a voice that's been called a "crying tenor." And, if he's still not making his case, a luscious chorus testifies that he's "really qualified."

Hughes, who nowadays confines his singing to church, isn't afraid to toss in a sly touch or two: a lascivious chuckle at the start, his admission later on that he's "not much on matrimony." That might give a suitor pause, except that he's quick to note that he's got "charm and personality." Plus, Hughes swears that a woman can cry to him and lie to him. If that isn't qualified, what is?

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Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.