Lou Pride

Keep on Believing

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Once an under-recorded soul bluesman, Lou Pride is making up for lost time. This 2005 release is his third album of predominantly new and original material since 2000, not including a terrific set of 1970-1973 sides reissued by Severn in 2003. Pride kicks off with "Midnight Call," one of his best songs and a perfect indication of his Southern soul/blues roots. There is a bit of Al Green's Hi rhythm section in the thumping drums and longtime associate Benjie Porecki's powerful Hammond B-3. Post-heart attack, Pride's voice remains in fine form, bending notes and sliding from a gruff bottom to a sweet upper register like a combination of Howard Tate, Bobby Bland, and Johnnie Taylor. Although the 12 originals all written or co-written by Pride are uniformly solid, it's on Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain," the disc's only cover, that Pride finds the blues by tapping outside material, possibly something he should do more often. A remake of his 1972 hit "I'm Com'un Home in the Morn'un" and horn arrangements by the great Willie Henderson bolster the retro production. The backing vocalists, horns, and live-in-the-studio sound all seem grabbed out of the mid-'70s Memphis soul boom, which is high praise indeed. Jon Moeller's short, crisp guitar solos recall Steve Cropper's in their concise attack and the horns that punctuate most of the tracks are wonderfully arranged for maximum effect. Only the album's extended length is to its detriment. At a full hour, the disc is subject to diminishing returns as the songs unfurl. There is a similarity to the approach that, although not a problem when each track is played individually, becomes a bit staid over the duration. The slow blues of "Sunrise" comes as a much needed change of pace on an album that could have been more powerful if it had been trimmed by about four tunes. Regardless, this is emotional, gritty Southern-fried R&B sung by a master and recorded with old-school charm. It's an all but dying art form and one Lou Pride is proud to keep alive.

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