Gary "U.S." Bonds

Take Me Back to New Orleans

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This compilation bypasses Gary "U.S." Bonds' better-known hits, like "New Orleans" and "Quarter to Three," to concentrate on a series of lesser-known singles and album tracks cut between 1961-1968. Nothing on Take Me Back to New Orleans is as outrageously catchy as those two hits, but there is plenty on this disc to please those with a yen for old-fashioned soul music. Take Me Back to New Orleans divides its time equally between old-fashioned soul shouters and ballads that are slightly more polished but no less soulful. The best numbers in the up-tempo category are "Shine on Lover's Moon," an unreleased slice of up-tempo soul that would have made a fine single, and "Workin' for My Baby," a mid-tempo groover built on a ear-catching, syncopated beat. The best ballads are "Don't Go to Strangers," an elegant exercise in doo wop that highlights a tearjerking lead vocal from Bonds, and "Call Me for Christmas," a yuletide novelty that gains a genuine charge from the gently pained croon that Bonds gives it. A few of the songs fail to impress ("What a Dream" gratuitously recycles the main hook from "New Orleans"), but the majority of the songs on the collection have some element that distinguishes them: For instance, "Guida's Romeo and Juliet" is a clever duet that sets the text from the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet to a catchy, finger-snapping beat. All in all, Take Me Back to New Orleans isn't an essential disc, but it makes a solid companion to any Gary "U.S." Bonds best-of collection and is likely to entertain fans of 1960s soul.

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