The Robert Cray Band
Take Your Shoes Off
I have never been a big fan of Robert Cray. Most of my blues-loving friends always embraced him. While I always appreciated him simply because he was one of the few young black guys who seemed to really have a love for the blues, I never could understand all the accolades that everyone was giving him. He was definitely talented, and I always liked a few of his songs, but the truth be told, I often found him too slick and rather boring. Now he’s purportedly morphing into one of the few young black guys trying to resuscitate Stax-flavored R&B. He’s doing it fairly well. I appreciate the fact that somebody is at least trying. To me, he’s always been more believable as a R&B singer than he was as a blues guitar-slinger, anyway. Most of his older stuff was closer to R&B than it was the blues. Now that he’s got a new label, he’s made it semi-official.
Hints of vintage Al Green and others in the Stax-Volt stable ooze out of a few of these songs. The lead track, “Love Gone to Waste,” steals the organ riff to Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” and purports to set the theme for the album. By the second track, he’s doing his best Otis impersonation with the “When Something is Wrong with My Baby”- flavored “That Wasn’t Me,” however, before all is said and done, Cray has habitually drifted back into his same old blues vein several times. He’s talented, but he’s no Al Green or Otis Redding, and he’s still not one of the best blues acts going. He’s sorta half-heartedly tried to capture the flavor and style of these greats, but I don’t really see this as much of a departure from what he’s always done. If he was serious, he could’ve hooked up with a girl singer like Carla Thomas, and snagged some of the old MG’s to help him write, arrange, and possibly even back him up. This release is way too slick to recapture the Stax sound that his publicity people claim. It’s got about four really strong songs on it. If you loved the “old” Robert Cray, you’ll probably love this one too. If you didn’t, this release will not likely change your mind.