Mississippi native Otis Clay hasn't changed much with the times, as this live set recorded at the Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland in 2003 quickly makes clear. From the start of his secular singing career in Chicago on the One-derful and Cotillion labels in the 1960s, through his high watermark on Hi Records in Memphis in the 1970s (where he was the hardest vocal hitter Hi ever recorded), Clay has stuck fast to his gospel-fueled roots, and his gruff, impassioned singing continues to be the very definition of deep soul. Backed by Tyrone Davis' old group, the Platinum Band, a nine-piece, horn-driven Chicago outfit, and given vocal support by veteran singers Theresa Davis and Diane Madison, Clay testifies hard and fast and fiery here, the way he always has. With deep, funky grooves filled out with punchy horns, and led by Clay's gruff and searing vocals, songs like the hard-driving "Nickel and a Nail," the teasing and playful "I Can Take You to Heaven Tonight," and the quick, crisp "Love & Happiness" (made famous by former Hi labelmate Al Green) burn the way the contemporary neo-soul movement can only dream about burning. This isn't retro soul, this is soul still alive and kicking, only a whisper away from a gospel revival meeting, and Clay finally takes listeners there, too, with "Amen/This Little Light of Mine" and a scorching, funky version of George Clinton's "I Just Wanna Testify." "It's a soul song, simply said," is how Clay introduces the set closer, "Respect Yourself," and anyone who thinks soul died in the 1970s will have a hard time explaining that to Otis Clay.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett