Incidentally, The All Stars featured as the backing on this album, apart from the legendary Motown session man James Jameson on bass. The catchy, poppy Pucker Up Buttercup was also a single. Walker's take on Barrett Strong's Money (That's What I Want) is jazzily lively with tagged-on enthusiastic audience noises. Four corkers have begun this album. Now it is time for mainly instrumentals. The instrumental Last Call has a classic blues-soul riff but suffers from a bit of a scratchy, hissy sound. Despite that, it still has real beaty oomph to it. Anyway You Wannta sees Junior going a bit James Brown on a solid piece of mostly instrumental funk pop, which a few Brown-esque vocal exhortations. Baby You Know You Ain't Right is a stopping vocal track with more Brown-styled vocals and a bit of a Papa's Got A Brand New Bag feel. The instrumental Ame' Cherie features some fine Booker T-style organ and muscular drumming. Walker's sax on Twist Lackawanna is at virtuous level, great stuff, as is the rest of the backing. San-Ho-Zay continues the sax-laden instrumental groove, again superbly. Mutiny has a great, rhythmic sound to it that you simply can't keep still to. So, some great vocal tracks started the album and similar quality instrumentals ended it. Check out Jamerson's bass solo on Mutiny. The sound is a little bit rough-edged on this album, in places, but it is in nice, separated stereo, with warm bass and for 1966, has its good points.
It was time for an instrumental now, however, with the magnificent funky, jazzy, upbeat vibes of Groove And More. Walker's saxophone soars on this one. The group's cover of Neil Diamond's Holly Holy brings out the gospel essence of the song beautifully. Its dramatic rising chorus is perfect for the backing vocalists. All of the group do a great job on this. They turn it into a real tour de force. Honey Come Back is a slower pace, perfect piece of gospelly soul. The effervescent Riding High On Love is typical early seventies Motown fare - upbeat and poppy. All Motown acts from the mid-sixties onwards, it seemed, had to cover a Beatles track somewhere along the line, and Walker's group duly did so on here with a spirited version of Hey Jude. Once more, the gospel potential of the song is fully realised. I actually quite like it. Iconic songs like this are not easy to cover. At A Saturday Matinee you would expect to be a Saturday Night At The Movies-style pop song, but it is a lively, saxophone-driven instrumental. Some funky wah-wah guitar arrives right at the very end, but just as it does, the track ends, unfortunately. Overall, this had been Jr. Walker's most polished and slick-sounding album thus far, one that was packed full of soul.
The group's cover of Traffic's Feelin' Alright is bluesy and funky, as you would expect. There really isn't much that they can't cope with. This was 1971 and it was the beginning of the era of funky "message" protest songs from artists like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and The Undisputed Truth. Walker and his mates get in on the thing with the delicious piano, drums and sax groove of Right On Brothers And Sisters. The song carries a message of racial harmony consistent which much of the period's soul output. Teach Them To Pray is, not surprisingly, a spirit-lifting, euphoric gospelly number, full of rousing backing vocals.
Just revel in that deep bass intro to Pieces Of A Man and then Jr.'s sax comes blowing in, followed by a seriously gritty true soul vocal. Solid stuff indeed. This is seriously quality soul music. These Things Will Keep Me Loving You is soulfully energising. It has also been covered by Diana Ross and The Velvelettes. The later is a Northern Soul favourite and more of a stomper than Walker's more soulful version. Ross's version is closer to Walker's and is most appealing too. A classic example of multi-artist covers. The sound was superb on this album too. Wonderful and warm and in killer seventies stereo. This was a criminally underrated, little-mentioned album. I read a review recently that praised Jr. Walker's work, but added that he was not Marvin or Aretha. Well, you know what, he was up there with them. Yes sir
Don’t Blame The Children sees Walker back on gritty, funky vocals as we return to a social message song. Me And My Family is an evocative, slow and nostalgic “we had it bad” look back at poorer days growing up. It goes without saying that the saxophone is immense. Groove Thang is a couple of minutes of Blaxploitation-style sax-driven funk. Still Water Medley takes the melody from The Four Tops’ Still Water and gives Walker carte blanche to produce some fantastic saxophone. Never Can Say Goodbye is done in the soulful Isaac Hayes style, but obviously centreing on Walker’s saxophone. Again, the backing singers take the vocal duties.
After two albums which saw Walker singing on the greater percentage of the songs, this one was a return to a higher amount of instrumentals, with the backing vocalists handling most of the vocals, leaving Walker free to roam free on his saxophone. After a soul album in A Gassss, followed by more of a funk album in Rainbow Funk, we now had one very much concentrating on instrumental skills. The album ends with the salivatingly sexy, bassy and intoxicating free-form funk of Moody Junior. This had been a run of three really impressive albums. Once more, it really should have been given far more credit than it ever got at the time or indeed retrospectively.
Soul Clappin' is an infectious instrumental that renders one's feet impossible to keep still. Walker was still the master of his saxophone and you also get a mini-drum solo on here too. Johnny Nash's reggae crossover hit I Can See Clearly Now is covered minus vocals and is pleasant enough, but you get the impression that Walker had gone a bit easy listening here, despite the track's melodic appeal. It would have sounded great in the sixties but as struggling for relevance in 1973. That was a shame but it was just the way things go.
Gimme That Beat (Pts 1 & 2) is a return to the gritty James Brown-inflenced down 'n' dirty funk of Hip City from 1969's Home Cookin'. Walker's vocal is once more very Brown. Country Boy is a typically funk-soul Walker song about the old times in the South livin' on cornbread. Yes. he's been here before, on Way Back Home, but they are always evocative songs. Peace And Understanding (Is Hard To Find) is a shuffling, lively and funky closer with a bit of a contemporary message. It ends a bit to soon, though. As with all these albums, particularly as we moved through the seventies, the sound quality is really good.
This was Jr. Walker's final album. It had been a great eleven years of saxophonous glory and all his albums had offered something enjoyable for soul fans, as detailed in the above reviews. This one was no different. The quality, as it always had been, was high. It was Walker's most "late night" smooth soul sounding of all his albums. The ambience is slick, polished and romantic throughout with some doses of pop/soul in there too. As it is the mid-seventies, funk is never too far away either. Overall, though, it is very much a soul album from the period and if you didn't know, you would be hard pressed to identify it as a Jr. Walker album, despite the saxophone.
|Stevie Wonder||Marvin Gaye||The Temptations|