Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Howard Tate's Anachronism
Howard Tate - Pride
I guess lately I've been thinking a lot about Howard Tate. Not too long ago I did two posts covering Howard Tate's amazing 2001 comeback and his 1972 eponymous LP for Atlantic. Today's selection has previously appeared in Episode #5 of the podcast, but while listening to it in my car yesterday, I decided I should do a post about it because it's just that good.
"Pride" was a 1976 release on Tate's own HT label, and as awesome as it is, it's clear why it did not reverse the downward momentum his career had taken. On a pure business level, the single was due to fail due to the collapse of the independent R&B record business at the time (to put it in perspective, the mighty Stax Records had closed its doors at the beginning of the year). Further, "Pride" was an anachronism in the era of Philly soul and disco with its deep soul style and DIY production values. Although commercial success was all but foreclosed by the above, "Pride" stands as a great deep soul record. Over a very naked accompaniment, Tate starts out playing some nice bluesy guitar and conversationally extols his woman's greatness. After meandering through a verse or so Tate trails his vocal off and plays an equally-meandering solo before slipping back into the coda as if he were picking up his conversation where it left off (he literally repeats the "fire in my bones" lyric that ended the second verse). As the coda picks up steam, a very raggedy (and to my ears, slightly out-of-tune) horn section emerges to lay down some heavy-handed support to carry it all home. This is clearly not the best Howard Tate record ever made, but it is a personal favorite. This is real soul music, unfortunately released about ten years too late!