Gene McDaniels

The Wonderful Word of Gene McDaniels

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This album starts off a little unpromisingly -- from an R&B perspective -- with McDaniels' version of "Theme from the V.I.P.'s." He does his best with the latter, as well as numbers like "On the Other Side of the Tracks," but there's not too much that is very soulful on at least half of this album. It isn't until the third song, "The Old Country," that he shows what he can do, but once he does get in gear, he's fine. "Work Song" is OK, but "The Good Life" again throws him into middle of the road pop before he gets back to more interesting and comfortable territory with "Baby Won't You Please Come Home." "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" allows side two to start off on a fairly strong note, but "Blue Velvet" yanks us back into pop music again -- though he is reasonably effective with the song. And so it goes, from pop to light soul, at times sounding more like a Sammy Davis, Jr. album of the late 1950s than a '60s album by a charting R&B artist. The voice is still worth hearing, and some of the songs are interesting, but this record will prove too much of a stretch for fans of McDaniels' earlier work.