Sonny Green – Found! One Soul Singer
11 Tracks – 41 minutes
With the passing of Wee Willie Walker and Frank Bey, the ranks of down-home soul singers has become mighty thin. Fortunately, Jim Pugh and his Little Village Foundation organization have found another gem of a singer who has been flying under the radar for decades.
Originally from Monroe, Louisiana, Robert “Sonny” Green got his start as the vocalist for saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, then later settled in the Los Angeles area, where he has been performing for over 40 years. While he released a number of singles with some success decades ago, this album is his first full-length release. One listen to this outstanding project will certainly have you wondering what took so long!
Green has a raw style that is rarely heard these days. And, at 77 years old, his voice still packs plenty of power and suppleness. Listen to his gritty performance on the opening track, “I’m So Tired”. He rides the horn accents perfectly, laying out his heartache caused by a cheating lover. When he revives one of his old singles, “If You Want Me To Keep On Loving You,” he bares his soul with another superlative performance.
Other standout tracks include a slower, funky take of “Cupid Must Be Stupid,” originally released by co-writer Terry Hanck, who contributes a beautifully crafted tenor sax solo, followed by Mike Rinta digging in on his trombone, and Chris Burns keeps things rolling with some tasty keyboard work. On the ballad “Are You Sure,” written by Willie Nelson, Green sings with an intimate style that recalls the legendary James Carr, considered by some to be the greatest soul singer of all time.
Recorded at the famous Greaseland Studios, the project was produced by owner Kid Andersen, who also adds plenty of taut guitar licks to the proceedings. The sound quality and mix are up to the high standards that listeners have come to expect of Greaseland productions. Pugh gets a chance to strut his stuff on “I Beg Your Pardon,” turning in a killer organ solo that matches the intensity of Green’s vocalizing. A rousing run-through of the Syl Johnson hit, “Coming For A Taste Of Your Love” finds Green in fine spirits, letting out passionate shouts and cries at every turn.
Several other guests make memorable contributions. “Trouble” has a dynamite duet with Alabama Mike, the two singers sharing an old-school vibe over an infectious groove. Andersen composed “I Got There” with Rick Estrin, a love song finding Green in throes of passion, encouraged by the muscular tenor sax efforts from Sax Gordon.
The rhythm section comprised of Endre Tarczy on bass and Ronnie Smith on drums shine on a burning cover of Little Milton’s “If Walls Could Talk”. Green more than holds his own with a commanding vocal turn, backed by Rinta, Jeff Lewis on trumpet, and Aaron Lington on tenor and baritone sax.
“Blind Man” provides ample proof that Green has plenty of experience with the blues. He is at his heart-wrenching best, pouring out his emotional torment with a vivid intensity that stays with you.
It all adds up to a recording that is sure to become a fixture in your CD player. Sonny Green is indeed a soul singer who’s time has come. With top quality material, backing band, and sound, he makes quite a statement on an album that undoubtedly will take him from obscurity to nominations for a variety of awards. That means this one comes highly recommended!