Various Artists

Hoss Allen's 1966 Rhythm and Blues Review: The !!!! Beat

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In 1966, DJ Hoss Allen began two seasons of hosting a soul/R&B television show, filmed in Dallas, called THE !!!! BEAT [sic]. As the episodes have survived in color and been issued on DVD, they've achieved justified recognition as a repository of high-quality performances by a wealth of soul/R&B/blues acts, often of artists for whom little or nothing else is available on film. This rather odd CD has nearly an hour of audio performances from the program, in very good sound for the most part. However, given the greats who performed on the show -- including such names as Etta James, Barbara Lewis, and Freddie King -- it hardly seems like the cream of the crop, both in terms of artist and song selection. Many of the artists are unknowns, and while there are some fairly big names (Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Bobby Hebb, Gatemouth Brown) and interesting minor ones (the Mighty Hannibal, Lattimore Brown), they're sometimes covering hits associated with much more famous singers. It's not all that exciting to, for example, hear the Mighty Hannibal do "In the Midnight Hour," or experience "Respect" as done by Rodge Martin (who?), "Treat Her Right" by Brown, "Hitch Hike" by the Beat Boys, and "Just a Little Bit" by Robert Parker. On the whole, it's respectable but somewhat generic period soul, though with a bluesier edge than most. It doesn't help that the basic annotation doesn't include any of the original performance/broadcast dates.

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