I Don't Want to Cry - Chuck Jackson
One of the most unlikely contenders for first ever soul concept album was Chuck Jackson's 1961 debut LP "I Don't Want to Cry", in that all the songs on it were about crying. They include a great swing version of Jackie Wilson's wonderful "Lonely Teardrops" (see https://www.unclestylus.com/single-post/2019/04/29/lonely-teardrops-jackie-wilson ) and a very early Burt Bacharach / Hal David composition, "I Wake Up Crying".
Also, though Chuck Jackson's biggest hit was "Any Day Now" (see last post), his best record was undoubtedly the "I Don't Want to Cry" album's title track and his second biggest hit. Curiously, it was co-written by Jackson along with the album's producer Luther Dixon who co-wrote the Shirelles' "Baby It's You" with Burt Bacharach (see two posts ago).
"I Don't Want to Cry" has a terrific post Drifters arrangement by a 20 year-old Carole King, rapidly learning her craft: a catchy Latin beat, wonderful swirling strings and flamenco staccato guitar chords beefing up the middle eight, topped with a piano line that has hints of Rachmaninov. A lesser singer may have have struggled with such a sumptuous musical backdrop, but Jackson rides it like a rodeo star on a bucking bronco, assertive, confident and controlled. The result is the musical equivalent of ice cream. Chuck Jackson at his very good best.