Tommy Tate wasn't exactly a Stax artist, even though much of his 1970s product benefited from Stax distribution. Still, since the Ko Ko label for which he recorded from 1971-1977 was distributed by Stax for much of that time and run by a guy (Johnny Baylor) who wielded a lot of power at Stax in that label's final years, it's not a surprise that his output from this period had a pretty Stax-ish sound. All of his Ko Ko recordings are on this 20-track CD, including singles (among them his number 22 1972 R&B hit "School of Life") and additional material that only came out belatedly on a 1996 Japanese CD, along with the three early-'70s cuts for which he sang lead on actual Stax releases by the Nightingales. There's enough professionalism to the production and talented passion to the singing to put this a little, though not much, above the journeyman/generic level. A lot of it has an earthy spin on that early-'70s Stax mix of Southern and sweet-pop soul, and Tate's a gritty singer, if not one with a particularly indelible footprint. Occasional wah-wah guitars and sitar simulation (on "School of Life") add to the period feel. But Tate, who's credited as a co-writer on nearly everything here, never came up with anything that had undeniable hit appeal. The version of the Nightingales' "You're Movin' Much Too Fast" on this CD, incidentally, is a previously unissued unedited one.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger