Without Eddie Floyd there would be a three-minute gap in the
repertoire of almost every garage band that came of age in the last forty years.
With that distinctive horn riff so effectively adapted for guitar, “Knock On
Wood” was of a bunch with “Louie Louie”, “Gloria” and “In The Midnight Hour”
that any band wanting to get through a gymnasium or frat house gig absolutely
had to know. While “Knock On Wood” may be Floyd’s most well-know composition
(and hit single) he, often partnered with Steve Cropper, wrote big numbers for
almost every one of his fellow artists on the Stax label during his long tenure
there. Eddie’s back at Stax for the first time in 34 years and if the albums he
made for other labels during those years hadn’t been as good as they are it
wouldn’t be at all overstating to say that Eddie Floyd has made a spectacular
return to form.
There is something so sweet and mellow about the music
associated with Stax that, despite stylistic similarities, it is easily
distinguishable from the equally great and equally historic music from Atlantic and Motown in their glory years. It’s nice to
hear that whatever is in the air at Stax to facilitate or enhance the
satisfying warmth and funky thump that characterized its output is still in
abundant supply. Floyd, whose matured voice calls to mind classic R&B
crooners like Brook Benton rather than the soul shouters of the 1960s (of which
he was a great example) is on his game as both performer and composer with the
mix of old and new tunes that make up Eddie
Loves You So.
“Knock On Wood” has been recorded so many times that it
would have been redundant even for Eddie to rework it again on record. Instead
we get a bang-up take on “You Don’t Know What You Mean To Me,” the
Floyd/Cropper tune which, in the industry parlance of the ‘60s, they “made a
hit on” with Sam and Dave. There’s also “You’re So Fine,” the first hit for The
Falcons — the group that included Floyd, Joe Stubbs (brother of the Four Tops
unmatchable Levi Stubbs) and Mack Rice (who wrote “Respect Yourself” and “In
The Midnight Hour” and could have stopped there but went on to write hits for Ike
and Tina Turner, Rufus Thomas, Etta James, The Rascals and fellow Falcon,
Wilson Pickett). Equally exquisite is the old school soul of “Consider Me and
“Since You Been Gone,” reminiscent of the underrated small masterpieces Curtis
Mayfield wrote for Major Lance.
Produced and mixed by guitarist Michael Dinallo, who
continues Cropper’s tradition of provided the right lick in the right place at
the right time, Eddie Loves You So is
one of a very few recent albums not recorded
by Solomon Burke or Al Green that’s perfect to play for “them what don’t know”
what the phrase “soul music” really means.
Are you listening, Miss Winehouse?
Standout Tracks: “Close To You,” “Since You Been Gone” RICK ALLEN