For the first release in several years, Huey Lewis and the News, have produced a tribute to the classic Memphis soul sound an Stax Records on the aptly titled “Soulsville” (Wow Records). Reunited with producer Jim Gaines, they recorded this CD at Ardent Studios and a collection of songs mostly associated with Stax, although some from the recently departed Solomon Burke and Wilson Pickett who were on Atlantic Records, which had a distribution deal with Stax for a number of years.
Lewis and his band is an affable band and do an earnest job on handling a pretty wide range of material including a nice rendition of The Staples’ “Respect Yourself” which has a singer sounding much like Mavis Staples joining Huey on the vocal. Certainly the groove is there as he redoes “Got to Get You Off My MInd,” or the Wilson Pickett burner “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You.” The playing is idiomatic and the overall effect is a very good blue-eyed soul cover band with a good singer who obviously loves the material. However, well-intentioned this tribute is, comparisons to original recordings is inevitable and these suffer in comparison.
The review CD was sent by a publicity firm for the release.