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Issue 1088

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Review

Curtis Salgado: Soul Shot (Alligator Records)

Curtis Salgado CD Cover Pic

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UK release date 10.04.2012

This guy was born to sing soul. He sweats soul. He eats, sleeps and breathes soul. He IS soul. A throw back to the Stax, Atlantic and obscure labels dotted across America, Curtis Salgadoâs blue-eyed soul meets blues vocal is the real deal.

His latest CD, âSoul Shot,â is a triumph. It really hits the target (see what I did then?)

This is the man who since beginning his career in the 1960s, fronted his own band The Nighthawks, inspired his friend John Belushiâs character Joliet Jake in the Blues Brothers, and had another character (Cab Callowayâs Curtis) in the movie named after him.The album âBriefcase Full of Bluesâ was dedicated to him. He co-founded The Robert Cray band and sang with Roomful of Blues.

He released his first of eight solo albums 21 years ago, toured with The Steve Miller band and sang with Santana. Then ill health knocked him back in March 2006, when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He underwent a successful liver transplant in September that year, and was then diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008. He had beaten it for nigh on four years,but news just in; Curtis underwent surgery on July 18th in Portland, Oregon, to remove a cancerous growth from his lung, confirmed by his manager Shane Tappendorf.

A segment of Curtis's left lung was removed. It is thought to be the same type of cancerous mass that was removed from his lung in 2008. Salgado was in hospital for a week and is now recovering at home for at least a month, but his doctors anticipate a complete recovery.Talk about paying your dues for the blues, eh?

Curtis Salgado was the winner of the 2012 Blues Music Award (used to be called the WC Handy Awards) for Soul/Blues Artist of the Year. Critics globally have hailed his latest album as his best yet and âessential.â I shall not argue with that.
This week, while recovering from his surgery, Curtis said: "I am extremely grateful for the overwhelming support of my family, friends and fans and the courageous people that have faced this fight before me.," The 58-year-old added. "I also want to thank the promoters and venues for their understanding regarding my medical situation. We will do our best to reschedule all of our performances affected by my surgery."

The 11 track CD opens with a tremendous cover of Bobby Womack's âWhat You Gonna Do.â There are four Salgado originals, the best of which for me is track four: âShe Didnât Cut Me Loose.â A slinky, groove-laden song that has Salgado dredging up his best Johnny Guitar Watson vocal phrasing, and a track that conjures up memories of his old pal Robert Crayâs best early work. I just love this track.

He visits Otis Reddingâs âLove Man,â and the afore-mentioned Watsonâs âStrung Out.â He triumphs with OV Wrightâs (one of the greatest soul singers ever, bar none) âNobody But You.â His version of the Detroit Emeraldâs âLet Me Take You In My Armsâ is lovely. (The infectious horn riff from that original, sampled by De la Soul.)

The entire choice of songs is superb. The playing first class â he is joined by Crayâs current drummer Tony Braunagel, Crayâs pianist Jim Pugh, Lenny Castro on percussion, Larry Fulcher on bass and a smattering of other top end session guys. The arrangements are top drawer.

The O'Jays âLet Me Make Love To You,â written by Walter âBunnyâ Sigler, is priceless. He tackles George Clintonâs Parliament track âGetting To Know You,â and makes it his own. The choice of songs here really is faultless and fit Salgado like a glove.

The CD was produced by funk and R&B guitarist Marlon McClain, drummer Braunagel and Salgado. The production trio got it bang on. Salgado is a mean harmonica player, and gets his chance on this CD on a few tracks. Controlled, subtle brush strokes that add value, his heroes Paul Butterfield and Little Walter to the front of his mind, no doubt.

His vocal is everything that was great about old school soul, with a blues edge. It is horn-drenched. It is gospel-inspired. His timbre gets close to BB King one minute, O.V. Wright, the Tops and the Temps the next.

Itâs retro, but relevant. Quite simply: Curtis Salgado is one of the best soul singers you will ever hear, a real survivor - in more ways than one - and long may that be the case.

*** Donations to help with Curtis's medical expenses can be made online at: http://curtissalgado.chipin.com/curtis-salgado-medical-fund. Donations can also be made to the Curtis Salgado Fund c/o Odaglas LLC Donation Account at all US Banks or by mail to US Bancorp, 2550 NW 188th Avenue, Hillsboro, OR 97124. For additional information please visit www.curtissalgado.com and www.facebook.com/CurtisSalgado.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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