Levon Helm Levon Helm 
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- Released: November 26, 2002
- Originally Released: 1978
- Label: Acadia Records
Dirty Linen - Apr/May 93, p.68"...The emphasis is pretty much a straight Stax/Volt Southern R&B style..."
- 1.Ain't No Way
- 2.Driving Something Sweet
- 3.Sweet Johanna
- 4.I Came Here to Party
- 5.Take Me to the River
- 6.Standing on a Mountaintop
- 7.Let's Do It in Slow Motion
- 8.Audience For My Pain
Personnel includes: Levon Helm (vocals, drums); Dan Ferguson, Larry Byrom, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Cropper (guitars); Lou Marini (alto & tenor saxophone); Howard Johnson (baritone saxophone);, Barry Becket, Randy McCormick (keyboards); Scott Edwards, David Hood (bass), Willie Hall (drums, percussion); Roger Hawkins (drums); Ernie Cate, Earl Cate, Mary Berry (background vocals).
Engineers include: Bruce Robb, Seve Melon and Gregg Hamm.
Recorded at Cherokee Recording Studios, Hollywood and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Sheffield, Alabama.
Levon Helm's second solo album isn't a bad listen, it just seems, given its pedigree, that it should be a good deal better than it is. Produced by Donald "Duck" Dunn of the legendary Booker T. & the MG's, and featuring Steve Cropper and the Muscle Shoals session crew, this outing ought to cook with some serious funk and soul, and that it only occasionally does so is the big surprise. Helm's Arkansas drawl gives his singing an authentic sounding expressiveness, but somehow nothing here has the easy, natural sounding ring that was the trademark of his best work with the Band. Not that there aren't solid tracks here. Covers of Allen Toussaint's "Play Something Sweet," Tony Joe White's "I Came Here to Party," and the Cate Brothers tune, "Standing on a Mountain Top" (which boasts Earl and Ernie Cate on harmony vocals), all have wonderful horn charts and soulful approaches. But something intangible is missing, as if these tunes simply sound like they have soul without actually possessing it. True, Helm's version of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" brightens things up here, but the song is so good and durable that not even a Muppet could blow it as long as the arrangement is followed. It's interesting that Dunn himself doesn't play bass on this album. Maybe that's what's missing. Again, this isn't a bad album, just a surprisingly lifeless one, given the talent involved. ~ Steve Leggett
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