Johnny Rawls review…06-18-12…

JOHNNY RAWLS

SOUL SURVIVOR

CATFOOD RECORDS  CFR-15

SOUL SURVIVOR–HAND ME DOWNS–EIGHT MEN, FOUR WOMEN–KING OF HEARTS–LONG WAY FROM HOME–BAD LITTLE GIRL–DROWNING–DON’T NEED A GUN TO STEAL–J. R.’S GROOVE–YES

By the time Johnny Rawls was in his twenties, he was hired as band director for soul legend O. V. Wright, keeping the band touring with other lead singers even after Wright’s untimely passing in 1979.  In 1985, Johnny began his solo career, and, just like a fine wine, has only improved with age.

His latest set for Catfood Records is entitled “Soul Survivor,” and contains nine originals, either penned in whole or in part by Johnny and band members Bob  Trenchard and Sandy Carroll.  They are all deeply-rooted in the classic soul-blues style that Johnny’s mentors such as Wright, Arzell Hill, and Joe Tex were famous for.  The horns and keyboard arrangements add the spice, while Johnny’s soulful delivery brings the goods.  Johnny McGhee, former guitarist for the group LTD,  plays some mean lead licks on the dazzling instrumental, J. R.’s Groove,” with Johnny Rawls on bass!

Check out Johnny’s lament of everything being passed down to him, and “growing tired of these Hand Me Downs.”  “Long Way From Home” finds the road-weary bluesman anxious to return to his loved ones.  He pays tribute to O. V. Wright on each one of his albums, and herein it is the classic “Eight Men, Four Women,” who “found me guilty of loving you.”

We had two favorites, too.  Johnny takes a hard look at corruption in today’s society, from politicians, to bankers, and even to TV evangelists, who “Don’t Need A Gun To Steal.”  And, the set closes with the most “traditional” blues cut on the album, “Yes,” set over a swaying, gently-loping beat and featuring Michael Kakuk’s dobro and harp, which gives  this one an authentic, “down-home-blues” feel.

Over the course of Johnny’s last four albums, he has received eight Blues Award nominations, and won in 2010 for Best Soul Blues Album for “Ace Of Spades.”  Expect more kudos and awards for a man who truly is “the last of his breed,” “Soul Survivor” Johnny Rawls!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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