There’s a lot of music in the world these days. Unless one’s paying particular attention the bulk of it passes virtually unnoticed, providing little more than white noise as an aural soundtrack to busy lives.
If you, too, have been inundated of late by unremarkable music that leaves little impression, I’d heartily recommend a dose of New Mexico’s Soul Deacons. And I’d challenge all but the most severely disabled to sit still through this puppy …
True, the Soul Deacons, led by leather-lunged Brother E. Clayton, are unlikely to earn immortality as musical innovators. Mining classic soul styles on an all-cover program, there’s really nothing here that any North American adult of a certain age hasn’t heard before. But seldom is it delivered with such aplomb, enthusiasm, and sheer, unmitigated fun!
territory is firmly established with the opener, the Trammps mid-Seventies classic, “Hold Back The Night,” here given a punchy horn arrangement to augment an irresistibly bouncy beat. Even the synthesized strings (usually cringe-worthy) work unusually well on this one. Next it’s Wilson Pickett’s “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You,” again marrying a catchy melody and breezy beat to an eminently danceable rhythm. “Stool Pigeon,” a minor hit for Kid Creole and The Coconuts, may be a novelty song, but the Deacons keep it short and sweet, with a complex and funky arrangement that features dizzying changes that keep things interesting.
And so it goes, with the boppy beat of “She’s Not Just Another Woman” followed by the slinky, blues-drenched groove of “Sweet Feelings,” from the Southern soul of “Trying To Live My Life Without You” (with Brother Clayton holding his own quite nicely against O. V. Wright and Otis Clay, both of whom have covered it) to the Philly sound of Gamble and Huff’s “Deeper In Love With You.”
Throughout, the Deacons exhibit an uncanny knack for finding tunes that sound instantly familiar yet haven’t been done to death, with things coming to a close with a spine-tingling, stripped-down take on “You’ve Got To Hurt Before You Heal,” best known as a Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland number.
Definitely not a straight-ahead blues outing, this one is nonetheless irresistible simply because it’s great music played from the heart. Go ahead – skip church and have yourself some fun!