Marvin Sease

Modern Soulman: The Collection

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While he's usually tagged as a blues singer, Marvin Sease's music is more closely rooted in the tradition of Southern soul, with Sease's tales of cheating husbands, housewrecking women, and footloose lover-men cut from the same cloth as the classic sides of Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex, and Otis Redding, even though they're not woven with the same degree of care. Modern Soulman: The Collection is a 16-song compilation assembled from material Sease recorded for Jive Records, focusing on his straight-ahead R&B sides rather than the raunchy celebrations of oral sex which brought him much of his American following. As a singer Sease isn't quite in the same league as the artists who most obviously influenced him, but at a time when soul singers in the classic style are becoming a rare commodity, he's not only keeping the tradition alive, he's doing it with no small degree of style and flair, and on his best cuts here Sease sounds impassioned, forceful, and compellingly gritty, which is to say this collection plays to his strengths. And if Marvin Sease the singer is a few notches stronger than Marvin Sease the songwriter (his songs tend to cover the same ground over and over) or Marvin Seasethe producer (his budget-minded reliance on synthesizers and drum machines robs these performances of the weight and feel of classic '60s soul), he's still more than a few paces ahead of the sort of old-school soul artists recording for Malaco or Ichiban these days. If you're looking for Sease in typically lascivious form, Modern Soulman: The Collection won't be of much use to you, but if you've wanted to hear him singing at a PG rating for a change, then this disc is the place to go.

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