Saturday, October 31, 2015

Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls Are Soul Brothers

Otis Clay guested on Johnny Rawls’ last recording, the highly praised “Remembering OV.” Now the two have collaborated for a new Catfood Records release “Soul Brothers.” The veteran blues and soul singers are backed by bassist Bob Trenchard and The Rays on a program of classic soul covers and originals. The production and the backing throughout is first-rate.

Certainly a recording with plenty of charms, it is not consistently up to the level one might imagine from the pairing of the two. Clay does not sound quite as vigorous here as elsewhere. Perhaps the covers of Delaney & Bonnie’s “Only You Know and I Know” and the recently departed Jimmy Ruffins’ “What Becomes of the Broken Heart” don’t come up to the originals, although in fairness on the former number I expected more in the vein of Sam & Dave (“You Don’t Know Like I Know”), which as a duo they don’t equal. Better is the straight cover of Tyrone Davis’ smash, “Turn Back The Hands of Time.” I emphasize these are good performances, simply not extraordinary.

 Rawls (often with Trenchard) continues to be one of the more interesting songwriters today as the bluesy “Voodoo Queen” and the deep soul original “Living on Borrowed Time,” the latter number sounding like vintage OV Wright. “Road Dog” is a collaboration with Trenchard and Clay as he and Rawls sing (with ounchy backing) about playing in Memphis, getting a few hours of sleep and then on to New Orleans. Also included is Rawls gospel original “Hallelujah Lord.”

Soul Brothers” is a solid collection of southern soul and blues performances even if it does not capture Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls at their very best.

I received my copy from a publicist. Here Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls are seen performing Tyrone Davis’ smash, “Turn Back The Hands of Time."

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