Mention Memphis and things that immediately spring to mind are: Albert King, Stax, Beale Street, and the best Soul/Blues music you can find. Preston Shannon's third album, "All in Time," merits inclusion in the latter category. If past performance is a guarantee of future success, Shannon has a sure fire winner here, since he employs the same musicians and producer (Willie Mitchell) that Otis Rush used on the Grammy Award winning "Any Place I'm Going."
Shannon's voice is ideally suited to Soul/Blues, and he always manages to find just the right blend of sugar and grit. He's a fine guitar player too, squeezing out searing solos in all the right places, without ever getting carried away to excess. His playing and singing blend together touches of Albert King and Little Milton, but the influence that shines through strongest is Bobby Womack. This is especially evident on the more soulful material, including a cover of Womack's "That's the Way I Feel About Cha."
Musically, most of the material sits at the point where Soul meets Blues. There's still enough variety, however, to make things interesting throughout the proceedings. The range runs from Soul ballads ("Be With Me Tonight") to funk ("Wrapped Up Tied Up") on the one hand, and from slow Blues ("Welfare Woman") to the more uptempo ("Jail of Love") on the other.
Session guitarist Thomas Bingham, producer Mitchell, and Shannon contribute the nine original tracks. Apart from the aforementioned Womack song, the remaining track is a version of Prince's "Purple Rain." It's pretty much true to the original, although the guitar solo at the end is given the Shannon Blues treatment. Probably the best track here, though is Bingham's "Tired of the Ghetto Bringing Me Down." There's a real emotion in Shannon's pleading "I'm tired of people/Being so low/Just walking round/No place to go/Jealous neighbors/Just hanging round/I'm tired of the ghetto bringing me down." It's a song that reflects personal experiences, but also highlights Shannon's philosophy of not being afraid to work hard to get what he wants.
This is a very fine CD that would have graced the Stax catalog, had that particular label still been going. The title of the closing instrumental ("Cold Beer Good Time") offers good advice on how to make the most of it. So, go get yourself a cold one, and then have a good time listening to "All In Time."
This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.