Delbert McClinton

Under Suspicion: The ABC Sessions

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Under Suspicion is the fourth volume in Australian label Raven Records' Delbert McClinton retrospective, and is in many ways its best. Contained on two discs are three albums recorded for ABC between 1975 and 1977, presented in reverse order. Disc one contains 1977's Love Rustler and the first half of 1976's Genuine Cowhide. While Love Rustler was McClinton's final record for ABC, it was also his most ambitious. He and producer Chip Young chose a slate of covers, from disco and roots country to rock, that reflected the dominant popular styles of the time period -- funk, disco, hard soul -- as read through the singer's established roadhouse persona. Standouts include "Let Love Come Between Us," the title track, and closer "Turn on Your Lovelight." Genuine Cowhide, performed by a small band, laid into funk across the R&B and early rock & roll spectrums, with covers of James Brown's "Please, Please, Please," Fats Domino's "Blue Monday," Jesse Stone's "Lipstick Powder and Paint," a pair of Leiber & Stoller tunes, and finally, Leonard Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll." The most "conservative" and gritty of the McClinton records featured here is Victim of Life's Circumstances, and is presented last. It weds Texas-style county and blues to Memphis-flavored R&B in grand style. It is comprised entirely of originals, and there isn't a weak track in the bunch. Included here are his iconic, often covered "Two More Bottles of Wine," the rollicking title track, and the soulful, "Solid Gold Plated Fool." Of these three recordings -- and arguably his entire catalog -- it is Victim of Life's Circumstances that is regarded as McClinton's classic. Raven's remastering job here is, as always, top-notch, and Ian McFarlane's liner notes are equally exceptional.

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