Doris Duke’s only major hit was “To The Other Woman (I’m The Other Woman)”, a country-soul song that sits right at the border separating Millie Jackson from Tammy Wynette. It was also the final track on 1969′s I’m A Loser, one of those albums with a mystique that threatens to render the record itself anticlimactic. It was produced and largely written by the eccentric Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams; it was praised by Dave Godin, the man who introduced Mick Jagger to R&B, as “the best album I have ever heard”; it was released on the Canyon label less than a year before the company went bust; and it’s been out of print for decades.
Now that it’s been reissued, I can report that it isn’t the best album I’ve ever heard, but it is a compelling, unflinching piece of southern soul — the sort of record where a song can start with a woman leaving home for the city and end with her mulling suicide as a prostitute.
The disc also includes three early tracks recorded under the name Doris Willingham, plus Duke’s 1971 A Legend In Her Own Time, half of which continues in the vein of I’m A Loser, and half of which consists of decent if unexceptional covers of other artists’ songs.