Latimore “Ladies Choice” (HSM)
by Sir Shambling
DISAPPOINTING SET FROM A MAJOR TALENT
A Woman’s Love; Made in America; All Said And Done; Dance With Me; Big Ol' Pretty Girl; Bow Wow (I'm An Ol' Dog); Sleeping With The Enemy; Cat Got My Tongue; What You Won't Do For Love.
It’s been a good few years now since Benny Latimore stood at the top of the charts in the US with “Let’s Straighten It Out” but he’s still out there, still making music. And so is that old rascal Henry Stone, one time king of the trans-shippers, who is now well into his 80s and still issuing new music like Latimore’s “Ladies Choice” as well as exploiting his back catalogue to good effect.
This the third new CD from the pair of them working together, and the previous sets have been big sellers in the contemporary blues market in the US, and this one looks to be going the same way. I’m very pleased for Benny as his myriad talents certainly deserve it, and his hard work touring the south for so many years continues to pay off. But sadly I’m not going to add to the rave reviews – the production and the style, highly commercial for today’s market, means it’s not for me.
The recordings were made in drummer George “Chocolate” Perry’s own studio and aside from Roach Thompson’s guitar all the “instruments” are divided between him and Latimore. Synths all the way I’m sorry to report. And it is saddening as Benny’s deep dark voice, full of those lovely cadences, is as full and rich as it ever was, and some of the songs would be really fine in a different setting.
“Big Ol’ Pretty Girl” is based on some classic southern soul chord changes, and has a funky little beat to it, but the “horns” sound just awful – so tinny and false. As does the drumming. The angry social commentary “Made In America” wears its heart on its sleeve, with more than a few home truths for the modern values espoused by so many Western democracies, and is well interpreted vocally. “Bow Wow (I’m An Ol’ Dog)” is a straightforward blues of some power.
The ballad “Sleeping With The Enemy” is a superb piece of writing, those minor keys that suit Latimore so well, and with his own electric piano to the fore is just about the best thing here – and maybe the only track I shall think about retaining for my Ipod.
I wish Benny well with this set – but I don’t think it’s aimed at old souls like me. Being a huge fan of the man I really regret it but there we are.