Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls Soul Brothers Album Review

Reflections in Blue
September 2014 – by Bill Wilson

Given their styles and similar backgrounds, one might assume that Clay and Rawls might have been friends from ages past. As it goes, nothing could be further from the truth. While they travelled in the same circles for some 40 years or so, it was only about 10 years ago that they really got to know each other. Hot on the heels of Johnny Rawls’ recent tribute to O.V. Wright, “Remembering O.V.” on which Clay contributed in honoring the soul icon and Johnny Rawls mentor and friend. That album met with rave reviews and helped to form a bond between the two giants of soul and blues who had so very much in common. Soul Brothers, their latest collaboration features primarily original tunes contributed by the band as a whole with some classic covers, familiar to most of us, thrown in for good measure. The result is a delightful album which blends blues, classic soul, and gospel for what should certainly be yet another award winning album for the duo that shows us that old school soul still has great appeal and that you can teach a couple old dogs new tricks. Soul Brothers is one or those albums with a timeless sound and feel that will appeal to music fans across the board, whether their preference is blues, soul, gospel or just good music whenever and wherever they find it. Soul Brothers certainly fills the bill. This is a beautiful collaboration that this old man hopes will result in further collaborations between the two giants of soul. Between the obvious vocal talents of the two men who could easily have been brothers separated at birth there is a band that is tight, well schooled in the genre and love what they do so well…the Rays. The band consists of Richey Puga on drums, Bob Trenchard on bass, Johnny McGhee on guitar, Dan Ferguson on keyboards, Andy Roman on sax, Mike Middleton on trumpet, Robert Claiborne on trombone, nick Flood on sax and the Iveys- Arlen, Jessica and Jillian on background vocals. Also adding his talents to the effort was percussionist, Jon Olazabal. What might well be considered the ultimate band fronted by two of the best vocalists in the business make for an album that you will most assuredly want to add to your collection. This is as good as it gets.

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