Hank Ballard

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

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Produced by James Brown in an attempt to resuscitate Hank Ballard's waning commercial fortunes, You Can't Keep a Good Man Down remains a minor soul classic -- Brown's admiration for Ballard galvanizes each and every groove, and his inimitably funky arrangements fit the singer's gritty vocals like a glove. While "Thrill on the Hill" and "Woman Is Man's Best Friend" nod to the muscular R&B of Ballard's early hits with the Midnighters, You Can't Keep a Good Man Down primarily serves to establish his credentials as a modern soul stylist -- a cover of Freddie Scott's "Are You Lonely for Me, Baby" is a particularly effective showcase for Ballard's rough-edged vocals, while "How You Gonna Get Respect" and "Come on Wit' It" prove his easy mastery of blistering, J.B.'s-type funk. A superb, sadly under-recognized recording.

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