Album Reviews

Various Artists

Do Right Men: A Tribute to Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham

Artist:     Various Artists

Album:     Do Right Men

Label:     Zip City/Tone In Motion

Release Date:     11/04/2016


Songwriters Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham have been described as a “two man soul hit factory.” At Muscle Shoals’ legendary FAME studio, Penn and Oldham helped artists like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett craft songs that remain key pieces of America’s musical heritage. The Muscle Shoals sound was a heady mix of soul, rock and a bit of country twang. Do Right Men pays loving tribute to Penn and Oldham while upholding the southern tradition of blending diverse musical styles. The collection also serves as a nice showcase for a number of southern musicians who deserve wider recognition.

Former Wet Willie front man, Jimmy Hall, teams up with legendary STAX session guitarist Steve Cropper for a spirited reading of “You Left the Water Running.” Hall sings with the passion of a southern rocker while Cropper churns out his trademark sparse, funky guitar riffs. Christine Ohlman and Bonnie Bramlett bring some rock ‘n’ roll swagger to “Cry like a Baby.” Nashville artist Kate Campbell delivers a sultry, country-tinged vocal on “A Woman Left Lonely.” Billy Earhart’s lush organ riffs add just the right amount of gospel grit. “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” gets a healthy dose of country twang courtesy of former Drive By Trucker, Shonna Tucker. The Bramblemen All Stars beautifully revive the classic, ‘60s soul sound on their rendition of “You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy.”

In its heyday, the Muscle Shoals sound was a rich melting pot of diverse cultures and musical styles. Do Right Men is a moving tribute to two great songwriters and a reminder that American music is built on a mixture of cultures and musical genres.

-Jon Kleinman

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