Paul Kelly's Dirt was a solid but somewhat average LP by this journeyman soul singer, including his 1970 Top 50 single "Stealin' in the Name of the Lord." Put simply, the album is too similar in some respects to the emotional, sometimes socially conscious compassionate approach Curtis Mayfield was specializing in by the early '70s -- and, to a lesser degree, the similar approach that Marvin Gaye was branching into -- to qualify Kelly's work as belonging in the same kind of league as the one inhabited by those two giants. The resemblance goes beyond the material; the vocal embellishments Kelly uses are often much like Gaye's and Mayfield's as well. But there is a difference between being annoyingly derivative and pleasingly derivative. If you like that sort of early-'70s soul and can accept that this particular LP doesn't have the most original stuff along those lines, it's well done, and a decent listen. It might be Southern soul-pop at its core, but it's dressed up with some sharp bluesy guitar lines and rock and funk influences, though it's only on "Soul Flow" (which has some searing electric guitar) that those influences get too bold. "Stealin' in the Name of the Lord" is the track that got the most attention, in part because of lyrics that were interpreted as critical of the church. But the anguished "What's Happenin' to Me and You" is a more interesting highlight, with a bewildered outlook on social turmoil that can't help but sound inspired to some degree by the kind of songs Gaye sang on What's Going On. The 2006 CD reissue on Water adds historical liner notes. ~ Richie Unterberger
85983MPaul Kelly - Dirt (CD)http://oldies.scdn5.secure.raxcdn.com/i/boxart/large/71/646315718423.jpg?v=317.9816.18USDOutOfStockWaterCDRB-SoulPaul-Kelly2008-07-30
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