By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
At this late date--after a young career spent on the local Abnak/Jetstar label in the '60s, a stint as performer, producer, and writer for Jewel/Paula in the '70s, and lost years spent selling other musicians' records--Bobby Patterson is still forced to re-lease his records on his own label, printing and promoting them all by his lonesome. Such is the tragedy of a local soul scene that is relegated to the shadows, where its best practitioners are forced to sing their hearts out in private; such is the fate of a would-be rock and roll hero forgotten by history books.
Patterson, whose songs have been covered by the likes of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Golden Smog, is just too good for such treatment. He's an essential part of Dallas music history, one more lost hero to be tallied up at the end of the day. Ronnie Dawson had to wait a lifetime for success to come his way, so maybe Patterson will accrue such deserved good fortune. After all, that's why Patterson called his first album in 16 years Second Coming: He hasn't lost the faith or the fire after almost two decades away from the studio, hitting the high notes and growling the low ones and emerging from his hiatus a lapsed soulman reborn in the funky blues. The brash horns signal his redemption, and his return to playing the guitar testifies for his conviction.
The man who once begged for quiet while he was making love and insisted she didn't have to see you to see through you returns with a new batch of wrenching love and love-gone-wrong songs. He always knew how find the honest laugh in betrayal, and here he writes of cheating women ("If he's getting all the thrills, I'm tellin' ya, I'll stop payin' the bills") and failed relationships ("All we have in common, baby, is our last name") with tempered sagacity. He's never the guilty party, but that's only because Patterson's women are strong enough that they don't have to apologize for their indiscretions: When Patterson catches his wife making love to another man at a party in "Right Place/Wrong Time," his old lady just makes herself another drink, combs her hair, and wonders why Bobby's not at work.
There's not a wrong note on this record: It drips verities, including the horn charts (some of which are unused backing tracks Patterson recorded in the '70s seamlessly merged with new vocals), Patterson's sparse guitar playing, the backup singers, and the organ that pulses out a rare boogie-blues beat. Bobby Bland used to make records like this, and Z.Z. Hill became a minor star doing this stuff, but Patterson beats them both: Unlike Bland, Patterson's still got the voice; unlike Hill, Patterson doesn't need anyone else to write his material. He's his own creation, a star even if no one's around to see him shine.