Bernard "Pretty" Purdie

Stand by Me

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Stand by Me is a frustrating album. Bernard "Pretty" Purdie was always an extraordinarily talented musician, but as a bandleader and songwriter, he was inconsistent at best. His version of the title cut, for instance, does little to showcase his abilities, and adds nothing to the original other than an irritating group of background singers. The rest of the album follows suit, alternating interesting ideas with poorly conceived or executed covers and arrangements. "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" is a lively, interesting song, but the arrangement seems busy and the lyrics are forgettable, not to mention those background singers again, who pop up periodically to clutter up some of the best tracks. On the plus side, the few times Purdie's drumming is showcased (especially on "Modern Jive"), it is as stellar as advertised, and there are some truly inventive songs here. The standout cut has to be the collaboration with Gil Scott-Heron, "Artificialness," which not only shows off Purdie's drumming but also strips away all but the bare minimum of instruments, making it one of the many possible precursors to hip-hop. Still, such moments are few and far between here. Stand by Me has some high points, but is not the place for newcomers to discover Purdie's talents.

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