Dobie Gray

Let Go

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Let Go (1976) -- the second of Dobie Gray's two releases on Capricorn Records -- saw the vocalist team up with Rick Hall of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. While the legendary Muscle Shoals horn section had been incorporated into Gray's previous two projects New Ray of Sunshine (1975) and Hey Dixie (1974), Let Go is distinguishable as the first album Gray recorded outside of Nashville, Tennessee. He was also removed from collaborator Troy Seals and many of the session musicians who had accompanied Gray since his 1972 hit "Drift Away." The change in sonic scenery was something of a double-edged sword as it provided the singer with a fresh vehicle, but in doing so relegated his considerable talents to, at times what seems almost like an afterthought. The unhurried opening title track "Let Go" is one of the tunes reminiscent of his earlier sides. The languid rhythm and prominent lead are all trademarks and the soulful chorus has just enough of a lilt to give it an unfettered reggae undercurrent. Conversely, the upbeat disco-meets-Southern rock drive on "Do It" is stylistically contrary and ultimately fails when removed from its era. "Mellow Man" is a similarly lightweight affair that might have worked better in a different environment with a slightly tropical and happy-go-lucky melody. Perhaps the worst offender is "Find 'Em, Fool 'Em and Forget 'Em," which is a hearty love 'em and leave 'em saga that has little substance behind the pulsating four-on-the-floor backdrop. More successful is the brisk cover of the Eagles' "Best of My Love" with its strong R&B sentiment, as well as a take of the Percy Sledge signature "When a Man Loves a Woman" that totally overhauls the classic from its soul shoutin' persona to a nice mid-tempo ballad. Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Country Love" is another example of how Gray combines his own bluesy influence on formerly countrified compositions. Although Let Go was out of print for several decades, Hip-O Select included it on the Complete Dobie Gray (1969-1979), limited-edition, four-disc box set along with his other six LPs from the '70s. The anthology augments the original ten cuts with the single version of "Find 'Em, Fool 'Em and Forget 'Em" and an unissued reading of Mel Tormé's seasonal favorite "Christmas Song" aka "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire."

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