Christams

Decoys - Shot From The Saddle (CD)


Ace Records 2001
029667187121
 

Formed by veteran record producer Johnny Sandlin, the Decoys features Scott Bowyer, David Hood, Kelvin Holly and NC Thurman, who have worked with top artists that include Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard and Percy Sledge. This CD from Muscle Shoals' legendary Fame Records features powerhouse R&B from these top-notch players, plus guest spots from Spooner Oldham, Bobby Whitlock and Donnie Fritts.

The sleevenote to the original US release of SHOT FROM THE SADDLE describes the Decoys as "a five man rhythm and blues powerhouse". That's only half the story, though. For what the Decoys really is, is a mini-history of Southern rock'n'soul, all wrapped up in a most satisfying 45 minutes of music. Originally assembled as a loose-fit 'jam band' a decade and a half ago by famed record producer Johnny "Duck" Sandlin, the group's personnel has lately gelled into a regular four piece (with a succession of guest drummers) that includes legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bassist David Hood. (The MSRS drumstool occupant is one of many who occasionally occupy that self-same position within the Decoys' floating membership, by the way).

Hood's been around enough to know what makes separates the good from the bad - as has lead singer Scott Boyer, whose own career stretches back to the mid 70s when he fronted Southern rockers Cowboy. Together with guitarist Kelvin Holly and keyboard man NC Thurman they make up the core of the Decoys, and are aided and augmented here by just the few other seminal Southern sidemen such as Spooner Oldham and ex-Domino Bobby Whitlock on B3s, percussionist Mickey Buckins and a team of background vocalists that includes 'Alabama Leaning Man' Donnie Fritts and Cindy Walker. Oh yes, and the Muscle Shoals Horns are conspicuous by their prominence here, too. Thus if you're guessing that SHOT FROM THE SADDLE is a beguiling blend of blues, country-influenced southern rock and straight-ahead Muscle Shoals Soul you'll be guessing right. The singing is soulful, the solos are brief and tasteful and the songs are generally pretty splendid (would you expect anything less from a set that revives Oscar Toney Jr's Down In Texas or Jimmy Hughes' Neighbor, Neighbor as well as Professor Longhair's Her Mind Is Gone, and blends them seamlessly with great Decoys originals like 24-7-365?). At a time when far too many veteran soul singers feel it's acceptable to record only with pre-programmed drum machines and crappy synth string sections, it's all the more refreshing to hear a 21st century southern soul record that features neither, as this doesn't. Enjoyed recent albums by the likes of Dan Penn and Russell Smith? You'll enjoy this, too, as it ploughs a not-dissimilar furrow to both Mr. Pennington's early 90s classic Do Right Man and Russell's recent Ace release The End Is Not In Sight (CDCHD 859 - like SFTS, originally released on Muscle Shoals Records).

Produced by Mark and Rodney Hall with occasional input from the aforementioned Mr Sandlin, it's great to see and hear that Rick Hall's boys are continuing to maintain the standards of excellence set by their father over 40 years ago when he founded Florence, Alabama Music Enterprises (that's FAME to me and you!) and recorded Arthur Alexander's You Better Move On. If you have even a passing interest in the Sound of the American South, you need to check this one out.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)

1 SHOT FROM THE SADDLE
2 NADINE
3 DOWN IN TEXAS
4 BITS AND PIECES
5 24-7-365
6 NEIGHBOR, NEIGHBOR
7 MELISSA
8 GET DOWN
9 GOOD DAYS, BAD DAYS
10 WHAT'S UP WITH THAT
11 HER MIND IS GONE
12 DESIRE

17.00 €

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