Kentucky Headhunters: Richard Young (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars); Doug Phelps (vocals, guitar, guiro, tambourine); Greg Martin (acoustic & electric guitars); Anthony Kenney (harmonica, bass, tambourine, background vocals); Fred Young (drums, congas, tambourine).
Additional personnel: Robbie Bartlett (vocals); Jimmy Hall (harmonica, saxophone); Johnnie Johnson (piano); Carl Perkins.
Recorded at Barrick Studios, Glasgow, Kentucky and The Sound Shop, Nashville, Tennessee.
The Kentucky Headhunters have spent much of their career trying to convince people they're not just another country outfit with scraggly hair, and if their pronounced Southern boogie rock tendencies won't do it, this album might. Soul finds the Headhunters indulging in their fondness for vintage rhythm & blues sounds, with the band adding keyboards, horn players, and female backing harmonies to give the performances an appropriate late-'60s/early-'70s ambience. Of course, no matter how hard they try, the Kentucky Headhunters still end up sounding like...the Kentucky Headhunters, especially since they wrote nearly all of the tracks on board (and no matter how hard you try, you just can't write a soul tune about meeting Carl Perkins, nor should anyone try). But as a change-up from their usual style, Soul works better than you might expect; the bluesy undercurrents of Southern rock have given the Kentucky Headhunters a leg up on embracing a more R&B-influenced sound, the songs are solid, vocalist Doug Phelps has a good handle on the material, and there's just enough big guitar bombast and Dixie-fried twang to keep fans of their other work happy. In short, the Kentucky Headhunters shouldn't give up their other job at the honky tonk just yet, but Soul shows they've got what it takes to do a side gig at Soul City without making themselves sound silly in the process. Right on. ~ Mark Deming