Born in Mississippi and raised in Minnesota, Sonny Knight cut his first single in 1965 with his group Little Sonny Knight & the Cymbols, when he was just 17 years old. Knight's career in music took a few detours as he spent some time in the military, settled in California for a while, and returned to Minneapolis to work with the group Haze before quitting music in the '80s and landing a job as a truck driver. Most folks would never guess Knight's back story from listening to I'm Still Here, the first album from him and his new group, the Lakers; judging from the strength of his performance and the clarity and control of his instrument, it's hard to believe this band is fronted by a man who's 65 years old. The Lakers are comprised of younger soul fans who kick up an impressive amount of rhythm behind Knight, ranging from cool, Northern Soul tracks like the title tune to raucous dance numbers like "Do the Caveman" and tough proto-funk like "I'm Through with You," with drummer Eric Foss and horn men Tony Beaderstadt, Bryan "Lumpy" Highhill, and Cole Pulice more than earning their keep on these sessions. But Knight is clearly the star of this show, and he certainly deserves the spotlight; he not only has a great voice, he works well with a band, and he's an outstanding performer who brings these songs to life with plenty of joyous ferocity, whether he's encouraging the crowd to boogie on "Get Up and Dance" or delivering the streetwise anti-addiction message of Rodriguez's "Sugar Man." Sounding like it was recorded in a sweaty club on a Saturday night, I'm Still Here demonstrates Sonny Knight is one of the best and most powerful vocalists to emerge on the retro-soul scene, and this is old-school R&B that grooves hard and sweet. Whatever Sonny Knight is doing, it's working well for him, and this album is a treat for fans of classic R&B sounds.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming