Soul Brothers

Catfood (US) CFR 021

Only You Know And I Know; Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool; Voodoo Queen; What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted; Living On Borrowed Time; Turn Back The Hands Of Time; Road Dog; Poor Little Rich Girl; Hallelujah Lord; Waiting For Dreams

Back in 2004, Johnny Rawls paired up with Roy Roberts for the ‘star pick’ rated cd, ‘’Partners And Friends’.  Now, some ten years later, Rawls has got together with another soul legend, Otis Clay, to deliver this set, appropriately titled ‘Soul Brothers’.  Supported by the seven-man band of musicians, the Rays and with the Rays’ bassist, Bob Trenchard in the rôle of executive producer, Johnny Rawls has helmed a batch of ten songs, three almost as veteran as Otis Clay himself.  Of these, perhaps the most surprising choice is the Jimmy Ruffin hit, ‘What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted’ but, in this strong, horn-supported version backed by Arlen, Jessica and Jillian Ivey, it works very well.  I was a bit thrown by what I might expect of ‘Turn Back The Hands Of Time’ as the writer credits refer to Eddie Fisher’s 1951 pop hit of that name but it’s actually a miscredit for the Tyrone Davis vehicle and another fine performance, while cover number three is the rousing opening track, ‘Only You Know And I Know’, Dave Mason’s composition.  ‘Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool’ is neither the Sugar Pie DeSanto song nor that associated with Lou Wilson, instead it’s a new number penned by Darryl Carter and Jose Hernandez that drives along nicely at midtempo and it really is good to hear those horns bursting in to help things on their way.  In true old-school fashion, no song overstays its welcome, indeed ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’, an easy toe-tapper penned by Al Basile and Trenchard and featuring some nice organ work from Dan Ferguson, clocks in at under three minutes while the set’s closer, the pleasing roller, ‘Waiting For Dreams’ is the longest track on offer at 4:35.  On the occasions I’m given to adversely criticise a (solo) Johnny Rawls album, it invariably concerns the lack of a ballad and that is the only fault to be had here, particularly given how Otis Clay can put such depth into such a number but maybe they had such a good time romping through the mid- and uptempo stuff that they felt a ballad might spoil the mood.  Certainly they give the impression of there being a great vibe in the studio - just witness such as ‘Voodoo Queen’, the truly upbeat ‘Living On Borrowed Time’ and the meaty ‘Road Dog’, where the ladies’ vocal support to occasionally chant the title further enhances the Trenchard/Rawls/Clay chugger.  ‘Hallelujah Lord’, as one might expect, is a song of praise and, in equally fervent manner, I’ll offer hallelujahs to Otis Clay, Johnny Rawls and all concerned for this magnificently uplifting release.