Dan Greer

Beale Street Soul Man: The Sounds of Memphis Sessions

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Dan Greer was a songwriter, producer, and the head of A&R for the Sounds of Memphis Studios. In his spare time, he sang. He never had a hit but he was a supple, skillful singer whose gifts are clearly on display on Beale Street Soul Man, a 2013 compilation by Ace that digs deep into the vaults to offer a portrait of Greer's talents. This 22-track compilation has a handful of songs that were released at the time -- the opening "Thanks to You Girl," "Bless You," "Share" -- with the rest sitting in the vaults until this release. Some of this stuff does sound like a demo -- compressed, thin, not completely fleshed-out ("Natural Reaction" feels like it's missing natural elements)-- but most of it draws attention to Greer's honeyed voice, which is rich and textured even when the music is stripped to its barest bones. This gives Beale Street Soul Man ballast even when the songs are just a shade slim, as they are on occasion throughout this compilation. Greer is responsible for the songs, apart from "She's Not Mama's Little Girl Anymore," and they're solid Memphis soul with the slightest pop bent; given the right production, they perhaps could have crossed over. Greer had a voice that could've appealed to a broad audience: the recordings here are certainly sketches, but they're warm, engaging blueprints, perhaps calling out for a little more color but nevertheless sounding engaging on their own rights. Ultimately, Beale Street Soul Man is a bit of an artifact of its time, music cut at the tail-end of the '60s and lost to its time, but hearing it decades later, everything on this collection seems seductive, suggesting just how fertile a time in soul and in Memphis music this era was.

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