Terry Callier

I Just Can't Help Myself

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Terry Callier's third and final album for the Cadet label is the most soulful and supple of the bunch -- Marvin Gaye's classic Motown LPs from the same early 1970s period serve as a good reference point, both in their richly-detailed arrangements as well as their thoughtful political and social messages. Despite its contemporary feel, however, much of the material on I Just Can't Help Myself dates back several years -- both the powerful "Alley-Wind Song" and the John Coltrane tribute "Can't Catch the Trane" were initially recorded during the 1969 sessions which later comprised the First Light collection, while the graceful reading of Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" was and would remain a longstanding highlight of Callier's live set. Under the circumstances, then, the cohesive beauty and power of I Just Can't Help Myself is all the more remarkable -- possessed of a subtlety and shading absent from his other Cadet dates, the disc simmers with quiet intensity, its underlying confidence and serenity occasionally giving way to moments of soul-searching angst. Certainly Callier's later records have much to recommend them, but the conclusion of his Cadet stint was nevertheless the end of an era -- he never reached quite the same peaks again.

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