The Cate Brothers Fire on the Tracks
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- by The Cate Brothers ~ Born to Wander: The Crazy Cajun Recordings ~ $16.04
- Released: August 25, 2009
- Originally Released: 1979
- Label: Wounded Bird Records
- 1.Time Is Like a Thief
- 2.Looks Like You Made It
- 3.I Won't Wait
- 4.In So Deep
- 5.Fire on the Tracks
- 6.Live Like You Want to Live
- 7.Takin' a Chance
- 9.Can't Share Your Love
- 10.I Don't Know Why
Personnel: Earl Cate (vocals, guitar); Ernie Cate (vocals, keyboards); Terry Cagle, Levon Helm (vocals, drums, background vocals); George Terry (guitar); Jim Essery, Jim Essery (harp); Boneroo Horns (horns); Paul Harris (keyboards); Joe Lala (percussion); Ron Eoff (background vocals).
One really wishes it were possible to give this album a higher rating -- the Cate Brothers were finally at Atlantic, the label they should have been signed to from the beginning; the singing is passionate and memorable; the playing first-rate or better; and the production (by Tom Dowd, no less) clean and crisp, with the result a warm, soulful sound. And a good deal of the material, most notably "Looks Like You Made It," is achingly beautiful white soul. The only problem with Fire on the Tracks, the Cate Brothers' first (and only) album for Atlantic Records, is the lack of enough fresh or original moments -- perfectly good, catchy numbers such as "Time Is a Thief," "I Won't Wait," and "In So Deep" are fine as far as they go, but also thoroughly predictable, so much so that one can accurately anticipate every note of each break the first time one hears most of it. Too much of it is mostly white Southern soul by the numbers, and that leaves it all up to the power and sincerity of the singers -- fortunately, Ernie and Earl Cate can pull it off in that department, aided by Levon Helm and with the basic quartet supported by first-rate session people, including Joe Lala and Paul Harris, and the whole thing pulled together by Dowd. It's an appealing mix, if not the freshest album that the Cates ever recorded -- but still well worth owning, especially for anyone already familiar with their work. What's more, time may have been kind to this record; in 1979 a lot of music like it was better promoted, but on the more level yet sparser playing field of the year 2010 and beyond, the CD holds up better than a lot of other reissues (and sounds fantastic -- sad to say, the master tapes for this album probably never got too much of a workout in 1979-1980). ~ Bruce Eder
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