Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicago Soul Power!

Tony Drake - Suddenly

Back in 1999 I bought a compilation called We're a Lover which featured male soul from the Brunswick/Dakar labels. One of the strongest songs on the set was the Eugene Record-Barbara Acklin song "Suddenly," performed by Tony Drake. Drake's website provides a bio and discography, as well as news about new releases, and I'll defer to it for other details. "Suddenly" is full-throttle Chicago soul as practiced by the Brunswick crew at the time. The liner notes to We're a Lover accurately note that the horn chart has a touch of Acklin's "Am I The Same Girl" (aka "Soulful Strut"), although the horns here are hotter (check out the shrieking trumpets). The slightly loping groove chugs along and the uncredited Chi-Lites provide the "ooh ahh ahh" background vocals for the song's mid-section and coda. Drake's vocal is both polished and anguished, selling the song's desperation very well. "There's no difference in the days since you went away - but I love you," Drake wails in a voice somewhat reminiscent of a funky Walter Jackson, as the horns and strings surge with him. This is a solid slab of Chicago soul power, and it's one of my favorites.

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