Original 1999 special edition release of 12 tracks.
Robert Cray spent the 1990s evolving from West Coast bluesman to Memphis soul belter, so his restrained guitar playing here comes as no surprise. What's shocking is the utter perfection of his emulation of the signature sounds of the classic Stax and Hi Records singles of the 1960s and early 1970s. Cray's voice exhibits the delirious growl-to-falsetto flights of a young Al Green on numbers like "What About Me", "Love Gone to Waste", and the prisoner-of-love weeper "Pardon". But his arrangements--heavy on kick drum, fatback horn grooves and organ flourishes--retain a grit that Hi in particular lost over time. And when he launches into a guitar solo like the probing corker that climaxes his take on Willie Dixon's "Toll the Bells", Cray rekindles the influence of his late mentor Albert Collins and reasserts himself as a torchbearer of stinging blues. --Ted Drozdowski