Review: Curtis Salgado – Soul Shot

Posted on: Friday, Apr 13, 2012


Curtis Salgado – Soul Shot

(Alligator Records: ALCD 4947)

The third release of the year from Alligator Records is a label debut and total triumph for the truly wonderful and soulful singer, Curtis Salgado – also no slouch in the harmonica stakes. He has been professional since 1969 and has had a varied life in music – from fronting his own band, The Nighthawks, being a member of the Robert Cray Band, and famously, the inspiration behind “The Blues Brothers”.  A stint as vocalist for Roomful Of Blues is also on his musical CV. Born in 1954 in Everett, Washington, Salgado grew up in Eugene, Oregon.

His life on the road has seen him ‘hone’ his superb vocals, and he has triumphed over serious, life-threatening illness which struck  him in 2006. On “Soul Shot”, his seventh album, he brings four new songs to the table and some inspired covers, originally recorded by the likes of Bobby Womack, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Otis Redding and the O’Jays. The album was produced by Tony Braunagel and Marlon McLain, who also play drums and guitar, respectively.

The core band on “Soul Shot” is the bulk of the fine Phantom Blues Band, who, apart from Braunagel, comprise of Johnny Lee Schell (guitar), Mike Finnigan (organ), and Larry Fulcher (bass) – with Robert Cray’s long-time keyboard player Jim Pugh also contributing, with many other guests, including the horns of Joe Sublett (saxophone) and Darrell Leonard (trumpet).

Things get off on a rousing, joyous note with the soul stomper “What You Gonna Do?”, which perfectly highlights Salgado’s voice – special mention here for a fabulous performance from all the band. The new song, “Love Comfort Zone” is a more laid-back affair, and another masterful lesson in delivery from him. The funky “Gettin’ To Know You” takes the pace back up – the George Clinton/Gary Shider song is pushed by the horns of Sublett and Leonard and some delightful backing vocals.

Charles Hodges “Nobody But You” is another funky groove-laden track, with the keyboards of Mike Finnigan and Jim Pugh excelling here. The legendary Otis Redding is covered on the uptempo “Love Man” – perfectly suited to Salgado’s masterful voice, with Joe Sublett’s saxophone roaring on a blistering solo. Needless to say on the new “He Played His Harmonica”, he does just that – not swamping the song, just some tasteful parts when required – on a song that has a late-night jazz funk feel to it.

The late, great Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s “Strung Out” is a highlight here – from Curtis Salgado’s part-spoken vocal intro and some glorious guest guitar work from Frank Goldwasser – aka Paris Slim, and just another fantastic band performance. “Soul Shot” is brought to a fine conclusion with another new song, “A Woman Or The Blues” . . . another soulful strut, with more top harmonica, and a question I’m sure has been asked thousands of times!


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