He recalls the feel-good factor of the mid-1960s.
Adrian Edwards 2010-05-06
On his third album, the US soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed proves he isn’t just a high-octane performer strutting his stuff on the dance scene, but a songwriter with a genuine flair for pastiche. In this collection of songs, largely self-penned, he recalls the feel-good factor of the mid-1960s in sentiment and tone: you can almost smell the slicked-back hair of Eli and his accompanying male vocal group as they schmooze their way through the slow burning ballad Pick a Number, or let rip with a an exuberant rock‘n’roller like Tell Me What I Wanna Hear.
Sixties culture, from the performers themselves to the TV shows, plays fast and loose as reference points. There are echoes of a Quincy Jones TV theme in Young Girl, Eli’s raw vocal pyrotechnics in Just Like Me recall Wilson Pickett, and then he summons the sweeter sound of Sam Cooke on the title-track.
Eli’s irrepressible personality shines through this varied and very appealing collection of songs, and tunes abound. Two country style songs, Time Will Tell and You Can Run On, offer contrasting approaches to the genre whilst Explosion, the album’s firecracker finale, brings to mind a review of his stage show in The New York Times: “a raucous, riveting, live act”. Eli’s trademark howl and falsetto are much in evidence, but the voice also has an endearing creamy tone which shows to advantage in songs like Pick Your Battles.
Throughout, Eli is backed to the hilt by a dynamic red-hot band of trumpets, horns and saxophones, each oozing personality. Producer Mike Elizondo ensures that whether the mood is Latin, big band or disco, this ensemble delivers a high class performance.