' As is the case with the JB's and other James Brown protégés, Bobby Byrd's legacy is spread over numerous out-of-print, difficult-to-find vinyl records. So this 22-song retrospective, which gathers numerous singles, and a couple of previously unreleased tracks spanning 1964 to 1973, is a welcome consolidation of his most significant work into one package. Solid stuff, covering both standard soul from the '60s and hard funk (usually featuring the JB's) from the early '70s, though it sounds a lot more like a James Brown record with a different vocalist than a Bobby Byrd record that happens to benefit from James Brown's backing crew. Brown produced (and occasionally contributed to) all of the recordings here, and duets with Bobby on the 1968 single "You've Got to Change Your Mind." ' Richie.Unterberger@allmusic.com
' Often called "the Godfather's Godfather," Bobby Byrd found the young James Brown a home and a job so he could get out of doing time in a juvenile detention center, then served as his bandleader and arranger until 1970. Not only that, but Byrd wrote more than 40 of Brown's biggest hits, including "Sex Machine," "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing," and "I Know You Got Soul." Unfortunately, Byrd never received proper credit for much of his work, which is why he remains a relative unknown to this day. Fortunately, a small label in Europe (where Byrd has a much bigger following) rescued him from obscurity for this comeback solo LP, his first since the early '70s.' Bret.Love@allmusic.com
The Soul Man! is beautiful, elegant music and, contrary to what one might expect from a straightforward Prestige session, it's made up entirely of compelling, memorable originals. When the album was recorded, both Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter were in the second Miles Davis quintet, and it appears from this record that they were willing to contribute original compositions for a smaller unit under someone else's leadership, even someone as modest as Bobby Timmons, who was essentially just a reliable, bluesy pianist, while Miles was a giant. The result actually is a small gem. Shorter is at the height of his maturity as a player, delivering eloquent, lyrical statements in that rich, confident tone, while Timmons lays down solos as witty as he ever played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the "school" that gave him (and Shorter, incidentally) an assured place in the business.
Robert Randolph is one of the rare artists who's been able to convince a sizable audience that the pedal steel guitar has a place outside country music. This is partly due to his over-the-top skills on the instrument, but just as importantly, Randolph and his Family Band have consistently shown their ability to launch a soul shakedown party of major proportions whenever they take the stage or set up in the studio. 2017's Got Soul, Randolph's fifth studio album, seems designed to capture the energy and power of Randolph and his band in full flight, and producer Matt Pierson has gone out of his way to give this material a big, rollicking sound that makes the most of the muscle and sweat of this music. While the tough, funky report of the rhythm section and the call of the organ provide the backbone of these songs, it's Randolph's pedal steel that gives Got Soul its unique sound, as the wailing peals of his instrument tear through the mix and lend this as much of a vocal presence as any instrumentalist can provide. While vintage soul and funk figures play a big role in these arrangements, Randolph's background in gospel is never entirely out of the picture, and there's a churchy passion at the heart of this music that adds plenty to the emotional resonance, especially on tracks like "Be the Change" and "Heaven's Calling".