Bobby Patterson

He's still groovin' along (Back Out Here Again and the in-concert EP Live at the Longhorn Ballroom, both just self-released on Proud, which says it all), and even though The Legendary Bobby P.'s new blues don't snooze, since the Soul 73 jock's still ratcheted up to 11 on a scale of one to five, it's the old soul that keeps him young at heart. This 40-track comp, consisting of every funky mother and brother he cut for John Abdnor's Jetstar label from '65 to '70, reminds why he didn't hit it big when he coulda and shoulda: Patterson and his Mustangs, six locals with more swing than a playground at recess, did they own thing but made it sound too much like everything else. Meaning: too many answer songs ("I'm Leroy--I'll Take Her," "Broadway Ain't Funky No More," the previously unheard "Mama's Got a Brand New Bag Too") to statements without question marks, and too many horn charts and guitar licks swiped wholesale from artists selling just fine at retail (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Wilson Pickett, name 'em). He cracked the charts once, with "T.C.B. or T.Y.A.," tamed by Abdnor when the Ross Ave. insurance salesman couldn't stomach tearin' yo' ass and settled on turning you around, but Patterson wouldn't get his due till the '70s, when he jumped to Jewel/Paula and taught the class how to spell love (m-o-n-e-y, repeated the Fab T-Birds years later).

Still, you won't find a bad track or bum note on this estimable collection, which adds 11 songs (nine unreleased, plus two galloping Mustangs instrumentals) to a '95 Brit best-of--save, perhaps, "Trial of Mary Maguire," cut twice when it came up sounding pop, meaning "pap," meaning unworthy of a sweaty body of work notable for shimmying and smirking over a bouncing-ball bass line. (Patterson was never given his due as storyteller and jokemaker; he was an R&B man raised on C&W, meaning his cheatin'-heart songs usually ended with the punch line that she was steppin' out on him.) Rescued from the dark end of the street are two Dan Penn co-writes, most notably "Long Ago"; resurrected is "Don't Be So Mean," which is and then some thanks to horns as horny as a 16-year-old boy on a second date; reviewed is a legacy deserving of its own revival. Listen once and wonder how he didn't hit then; listen twice and convince yourself he still could now.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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