Eddie Hinton, who passed away in 1995 at the age of 51, was (is) often referred to as the last of the great white soul singers. A member of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm section, his raspy growl, sounding for all the world like he gargled regularly with barbed wire and broken glass, was a marvelously expressive vehicle, a perfect marriage of blustery bravado hiding an aching vulnerability.
He was also a superb songwriter, renowned for his ability to combine gut-wrenching emotional honesty with spine-tingling gospel fervour, all served with an irresistible hook. His compositions have been covered by such soul stalwarts as Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge.
Since leaving the Nighthawks (he co-founded the "world's best bar band" some thirty-odd years ago), Jimmy Thackery has forged an admirable career based on blazing blues-rock, with his sizzling fretwork occasionally approaching over-the-top. But there's always been a great deal of soul in his music, and for his debut on the Telarc label he's chosen to honour Mr. Hinton with a tribute of sorts, with eight of the tracks on "We Got It" taken from the latter's songbook.
For this outing Jimmy's wisely chosen to rein things in, with the result a tight, controlled set that smolders more than it burns, simmers more than it boils. Long-time fans may miss the pyrotechnics Jimmy's eminently capable of, but ultimately the songs are the better for it.
The project owes much of its success to the presence of guests the Cate Brothers (no slouches in the soul department themselves), Ernie on keys and Earl on guitars. Both are credited with vocals, and one of them sounds uncannily like Eddie himself, with the same whiskey-soaked growl tempered by a hint of tender fragility. Jimmy simply doesn't have the vocal chops to pull this stuff off, and that he's content to turn things over to others shows both good taste and class.
My advance copy doesn't list writer credits, nor does Telarc's website. It's easy enough to pick out one of Jimmy's originals, "Blues Dog Prowl," a twangy surf instrumental stylistically a bit out of place that nonetheless provides a nice coda halfway through. The others fit in so well I simply can't tell which are his. The only misstep here - and again, I can't tell who's responsible - is "Super Lover"; cheesy is the word that springs to mind. Surely Jimmy could have found another gem from Eddie's vast output?
The Drivers, who've been with Jimmy for some time now, are, as always, excellent throughout. Ken Faltison handles bass, piano, and B3; drummer Mark Stutso is rock solid, and Jimmy Carpenter provides exemplary sax work.
Both a fitting legacy to a great artist and a very fine disc on its own merits, "We Got It" is definitely a keeper.
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