Dallas Frazier

Tell It Like It Is!

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Arriving just a year after his 1966 debut Elvira, Frazier's second album Tell It Like It Is! offers more of the same, but that's hardly a complaint. Frazier had such a light, easy touch that it's a pure joy to hear him turn out another 12 tracks of funky country-soul, and he's in fine form here from the moment "Don't Come Knocking on My Door" kicks off the album. For as similar as this is to Elvira, Tell It Like It Is! does have some notable difference, chief among them how Frazier turned to outside writers for his slow ones this time around, cutting George Davis & Lee Diamond's "Tell It Like It Is" (popularized, of course, by Aaron Neville) and Curly Putnam's "Green Green Grass of Home." He also cut a song from former rockabilly rebel Ronnie Self in "Home in My Hand," a relentless celebration of the rock & roll lifestyle later cut by Brinsley Schwarz and Dave Edmunds. With its references to one-night stands and smoking weed, "Home in My Hand" is far wilder than anything on either Frazier record, a reflection of the loosening times in 1967, but it's an isolated incident here. Most of the record reflects its time with a production that's ever-so-slightly splashier than Elvira, feeling a bit more show-biz than its predecessor, an impression that's made somehow stronger by Frazier's slight emphasis on novelties, including "Clawhammer Clyde" and "Honk'N Tonk," a tale of two fleas. These silly songs and the glitzy production suggest that Frazier and Capitol were gunning for a hit, but they weren't gunning too hard, as the basic sound of Frazier's music hadn't changed: it was still funky country, rock & roll, and R&B that didn't sound like anyone else outside of Charlie Rich in 1967. Again, Frazier was just slightly ahead of his time, predating such root-rocking mavericks as Tony Joe White, and while that didn't result in a big hit, it did make for music that has aged better than a lot of country or rock & roll records from that year.

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