10 songs – 36 minutes
Well, this is a treat. Bobby Patterson recorded his first session in 1957 for Liberty Records in L.A. No songs were released, but the session kick-started a life in professional music. Patterson worked in the 1960s for Dallas label, Jetstar R&B, for whom he recorded hits such as “How Do You Spell Love?” (later covered by The Fabulous Thunderbirds) and “T.C.B or T.Y.A.”. He also acted as staff producer and promotion man, before moving into production for the likes of Albert King, Little Johnny Taylor and Fontella Bass, as well working as a DJ on the KKDA-AM radio station in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. All the while, he continued writing songs, such as Albert King’s “That’s What The Blues Is All About”.
The 70-year-old Dallas native has now released his first studio album in years (by this writer’s calculation, 1998’s I’d Rather Eat Soup was the last one), the appropriately titled I Got More Soul! on Omnivore Recordings. Mixing equal parts blues, soul and R&B, I Got More Soul! features 10 songs, eight of which were written either by the writing team of Patterson and Jerry Strickland or by the core band featured on the record of Patterson, Zach Ernst, Scott Nelson and Matthew Strmiska.
The two covers are a great soul re-working of The Dirtbombs’ “Your Love Belongs Under A Rock” and Sly and The Family Stone’s “Poet”. And these two songs are a pretty fair reflection of the music here – there is the funk and soul of Sly but also the grit and youthful energy one would expect from a Detroit garage band.
Producer and guitarist Zach Ernst has done a stellar job in capturing a distinctly old-school vibe for the recordings, whilst imbuing each song with a tangible, crackling modern energy, aided by the support of Danny Freeman (guitar), Scott Nelson (bass), Matthew Strmiska (drums), Ian Varley (keys), Tommy Spampinato and Adrian Quesada (percussion), the horn section of Jason Frey, Derek Phelps and Joseph Woullard. The Relatives add gospel backing vocals on “Everybody’s Got A Little Devil In Their Soul.”
Given his age, one might expect Patterson’s voice to be losing some of its flexibility and scope but his performances here would be impressive from a much younger man. He has a individual vocal style, albeit with echoes of the great soul singers of the 1960s in the way his inflection rises at the end of a line. He also has a intelligent, very personal line in lyrics in songs such as “I Feel The Same Way” and “Let Me Heal It”.
Although it’s a short album, clocking in at just over half an hour, I Got More Soul! is also a welcome return to form from one of the true originals. Featuring well-written songs and strong performances, it is worth checking out, especially if you enjoy your blues mixed with a lot of soul. Patterson himself says: “This new CD is like Lone Ranger and Tonto, like Cisco and Pancho. I come to you in mono and stereo. If I’m lyin’, James ain’t Brown, Al ain’t Green, and B.B. ain’t King.”
Welcome back, Mr Patterson. We have missed you.