Friday, October 05, 2012

Bobby Purify Knows Its "Better To Have It"

Some of you may remember the duo, James & Bobby Purify who recorded the classic, I’m Your Puppet, four decades ago. It seems that there have been at least three singers who have performed as Bobby Purify, the latest being a terrific vocalist by the name of Ben Moore, who as Jerry Wexler says in the liner notes to the new Purify album, Better to Have It (Proper American), “THE MAN CAN FLAT SING - and I sure don’t mean to suggest he sings flat.”

The disc was produced by the legendary Dan Penn, author of so many R&B classics including The Dark End of the Street, I’m Your Puppet and Do Right Woman, Do Right Man. Penn’s long-time associate, Spooner Oldham is on keyboards on this session, Penn co-wrote all but one song (Moore wrote What’s Old to You) with keyboardist Carson Whitsett and Hoy “Bucky” Lindsay. Other familiar names in the studio band include guitarist Jimmie Johnson and bassist David Hood, while Charles Rose leads the horn section that includes Harvey Thompson and Wayne Jackson. 

This is an absolutely delicious recording that justifies Wexler’s praise. Moore delivers some wonderful songs including a terrific number, My Life to Live Over (a completely different tune from the old Guitar Slim number) with Purify-Moore reflecting about how he would change some things if he could live things anew. There’s a bit of topicality as Purify delivers a lyric about things being wrong for a young man to grow up when there’s Nobody Home to help him grow up with Johnson adding a strong solo here. More of a classic Memphis-funk groove is present on Somebody’s Gotta Do It with strong, punchy horns. 

The entire disc is first-rate with strong playing to accompany the terrific songs and fabulous vocals. Fans of old school R&B and deep southern soul will find few new discs as satisfying as this recording.

This review originally appeared in the August 2005 DC Blues Calendar and the September-October 2005 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 276). I likely received a review copy from a publicist. This disc is still in print.  Here is the man singing I'm Your Puppet.


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