CD: 10 Songs; 37:28 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, R&B, Soul-and-Funk-Influenced Blues
Make no mistake: A CD entitled Seasoned Soul, by veteran vocalist Al Corte’, can’t explain its genre more clearly. It contains ten blues and R&B covers, performed with panache by the lead singer and his backup band. Those looking for funky guitar songs in the style of traditional icons like Howlin’ Wolf will be disappointed. However, if blues fans crave disco dynamics and well-above-average singing, this album is the gem for which they’re searching. With pipes as polished as those of Pan, and a backup band that can’t be beat, Corte’ will woo lovers of soul everywhere.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Corte’ is the diversity and span of his musical journey. He “comes from talent” like some wealthy scions “come from money”. His website reveals that his father’s hobby was honky-tonk singing, and his Uncle Raymond was a professional opera singer. Thus, Raymond recognized his nephew’s gift, and trained him in classical vocals. However, Corte’ preferred blues and rock to opera, and wished to pursue a career in the former. His first band, Buffalo, New York’s The Cavemen, became a highly popular act in the western NY area in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, Al himself formed a band called Brass Tacks – a six-piece, all-male show group. He performed in more ensembles, such as Hot Ticket, Good Vibrations, The Tropics and Streetplayer, before incarnating in his present band persona, Corte’.
Performing alongside him, adding extra flavor to this Seasoned Soul, are producer Jerry Bone on guitar, bass, horn patches, harp and organ; his son Lennon Bone on drums; Ron Miller on piano and strings; Charlie Chalmers on saxophone; and Sarah Jo Roark on background vocals.
Even though the following three songs are covers, they’re still great, thanks to Corte’s singing:
Track 05: “Unchain My Heart” – WOWZA! That’s the only way to describe Sarah Jo Roark’s background vocals as she and her lead man tackle this Clyde Otis and Bill Sanford hit. Ron Miller is also spectacular on piano intro. “Unchain my heart. Baby, let me be, ‘cause you don’t care about me. Set me free…” Such is our narrator’s plea, a prisoner to his longing for someone who cherishes him no more. Love isn’t always a positive emotion, especially if unrequited.
Track 06: “Any Ole Way” – Otis Redding and Steve Cropper created this catchy 50’s-style tune about forgiveness. Backed by Charlie Chalmers on smooth sax, it’s perfect for mid-tempo dancing with a partner. “I don’t do the things that you do. I don’t go the places that you go. I don’t say the bad things that you say, but I love you any ole way.” When Corte’ sings that last line, he means it, with the vocal equivalent of a hug.
Track 10: “Cold Sweat” – Long live James Brown! Corte’ pours a Niagara Falls’ worth of hot sauce on this spicy number. “When you kiss me, hold my hand, make me understand – I break out in a cold sweat.” The guitar refrain by Jerry Bone is near-perfect.
Al Corte’ is definitely a Seasoned Soul!