Eddie Floyd

Knock on Wood! (Session)

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Eddie Floyd may have put a mere three songs into the U.S. pop charts, but he sent 15 soaring into the R&B Top 50, including the chart-topping "Knock on Wood," which to this day remains a soul standard. This ten-track album bundles up eight of his hits, plus two equally masterful songs that never made it that far, but not in their original versions. The complete lack of information within the packaging, which does however, feature an informative pocket biography, makes it impossible to determine when Knock on Wood! (Session) was actually recorded. However, in the revised spoken word intro to "California Girl," Floyd mentions 1982, a date supported by the sleeve photographs. But that's all the evidence there is, and there's none at all on the musicians who were involved in this project. Which is a pity, because this is a fine-sounding set, albeit a bit removed from Floyd's 45s of yore. Regardless, the backing band, whoever they may have been, perform these classics with panache and a keen eye for classic Stax arrangements (not surprising considering Floyd remained loyal to the label right up until its bankruptcy in 1975). But there are some distinct differences, as the musicians pick up the pace, brighten up the sound, and in the case of "Knock on Wood" on "Bring It on Home to Me," give the songs a funky work-over. The rest of the set receives a subtle pop gloss, which allows the songs' Stax roots to shine through, and also gives the numbers a Motown sheen. This treatment may be anathema to soul purists, but by putting Floyd in a more crossover context, it provides a real revelation of his ouevre. Those only dimly aware of his work will be shocked by their own ignorance, for every song here now screams "smash hit," and reeks of commercial success. But that doesn't mean that the soul has gone out of Floyd, merely that a pop-tinge has edged in. So now Floyd shows the best of both his worlds: the original soul star and the later R&B sensation, and what could be wrong with that?

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