on 11 November 2007
This CD represents some of Southern Soul Man Tommy Tate's best work from the late 60s and early 70s at a time when he was starting out on the treacherous path of making records.The cuts appeared on the Ko KO label which was distributed by Stax and the virtues of Stax are evident here - strong bass lines and tight horns behind a pleading sometimes keening Otis style vocal. The music is uplifting, derivative of the gospel drenched style of singing that STax perfected and ouzing in soul. The final three tracks are pure Stax gold and come as way of a bonus in that they are tracks by the Nightingales , a seminal group that Tate fronted briefly in 1971. Tate is also a good songwriter and whilst many will feel that he features best on the deep ballads that pepper the selection it was the R & B slanted shouters such as 'Identify'& 'I'm gonna worry' that stood out as class cuts. The selections are well packaged with good graphics. I would have liked the sleevenotes to have included an up to date interview with Tommy Tate rather than rehashing old features as the writer appears to have done . That said the CD is a delight and whilst the music is not quite in the essential category for its genre it proves that Tate is a significant and neglected Southern Soul singer and song writer.
Tommy Tate will not be widely known to most soul fans never mind those dipping their toe into the genre. If he is known in the UK it is for his beat ballad 'I'm Taking On Pain' recorded for Okeh which is appreciated by the Northern Soul scene.
Tommy Tate was a typical 'journeyman' singer recording for a number of labels during more than twenty years. Here we have a collection of his post-Okeh music both with The Nightingales and solo. This is quality Southern Soul with the fat, organic sound of Stax used as a template for these recordings for Ko Ko.
Tommy has a light, flexible voice that is appealling and the songs show the transition of soul through the late 1960s and towards the 1980s moving from the original soul sound as it began to incorporate Funk, Philly, Disco, Country and synths.
While it would be hard to claim this is an essential release, the musical quality shines through and it has had many plays at this household. If you enjoy this also try the excellent recent Garland Green compilation also on Kent.
As always the sound quality is superb with the songs taken from mastertapes with sleevenotes that help place the songs into context.
on 22 June 2010
Whoa! You hear Tommy and wonder why he's not in your collection next to Otis. After hearing "Just a Little Overcome" on HBO's 'Treme' I shook off the shivers and quickly went in search of an MP3 download. WHY CAN'T YOU FIND THIS MAN ANYWHERE?! A Stax b-side track, Overcome is without a doubt one of the greatest songs ever written, performed with soul wrenching force. The rest of the collection is diverse, well produced and further exemplifies Tate as a must-have. Unfortunately (as Wikipedia explains), he is "America's best kept secret" and for some reason his entire catalogue hasn't been made available digitally (get on with it iTunes!) so this CD purchase is the only way of getting a decent collection including Overcome. Therefore, BUY IT and spread the gospel!