Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls Soul Brothers Album Review

October 18, 2014

Whenever two of the greatest living “soul men” of our generation come together, it is a sure bet that sparks will fly and there’ll be some fantastic music to be enjoyed. We got a brief sample of what this album was going to sound like when Otis Clay guested on Johnny Rawls’ tribute to O. V. Wright, “Remembering O. V.,” and this collaboration is one of the year’s best.
It is entitled “Soul Brothers,” and showcases these two giants of R & B over ten cuts that are a Duke’s mixture of originals and covers. Backed by a brilliant band, The Rays, these two icons hold nothing back in the performance of these songs.

We have always heard a touch of gospel in the Delaney, Bonnie, and Clapton classic, “Only You Know And I Know,” and Johnny and Otis bring that aspect of this song to the forefront. Both men’s extensive gospel background is on full display as they give thanks for one more day in “Hallelujah Lord,” with excellent backup from Arlen, Jessica, and Jillian Ivey.

Their Southern soul roots blend in well on some fine cuts, too. On the minor-key “Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool,” both men realize that the woman they are seeing is going to lead them down the road to ruin. And, they do a memorable job on Al Basile’s tale of “money can’t buy happiness,” in “Poor Little Rich Girl.”

We had two favorites, too. Even tho they are both covers, Johnny and Otis capture the spirit and the passion of the soul classics of the past, and none compared to their renditions of “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” and Tyrone Davis’ “Turn Back The Hands Of Time.”

We only had one complaint with Johnny Rawls and Otis Clay’s “Soul Brothers.” We wished it could have about twice as long, because we simply cannot get enough of these two great singers plying their craft! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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