Thursday, 13 February 2020

Sam & Dave




HOLD ON, I'M COMIN' (1966)


Hold On, I’m Comin’/If You Got The Loving/I Take What I Want/Ease Me/I Got Everything I Need/Don’t Make It So Hard/It’s A Wonder/Don’t Help Me Out/Just Me/You Got It Made/You Don’t Know Like I Do/Blame Me (Don’t Blame My Heart)    
              
Sam & Dave specialised in earthy, rootsy soul, sticking to the formula of horns, bass, guitar and powerful drums with a few keyboards thrown in. They eschewed lush strings, pop sensibilities and polished, romantic productions. Down ‘n’ dirty Memphis soul was their thing. Many Motown acts in particular were going more slick and orchestrated by 1966, when this album was released , but not this pair of gruffly soulful Stax/Atlantic vocalists. They kept it real, unpretentious proper Memphis soul. Horns blasting all over the place.

What was with that cover, though, lads? The two of you riding on a huge cartoon turtle. That was one of the strangest covers of the era.

Hold On, I’m Comin’ has become an all-time classic of the genre, with its killer horn riff, pounding drums, funky guitar and singalong chorus. If You Got The Loving is more soulfully laid-back, with lower key horns and a gently rumbling bass backing it as it chugs appealingly along. I Take What I Want is a gloriously upbeat piece of gritty soul with a totally infectious beat. Check out that vocals/drum part. Ease Me grinds real good from beginning to end with the dual vocalists interplaying perfectly.

I Got Everything I Need slows the pace down on a classically mournful Stax ballad. Don’t Make It So Hard continues in the same vein before It’s A Wonder ups the tempo once more on its infectious groove and Don’t Help Me Out has such a perfect bass line to it. Just Me is a yearning, slow ballad. When I hear these vocals I hear the influence they had on Southside Johnny so clearly.

You Got It Made is a mid-pace number with those horns blowing beautifully behind more solid, muscular drums. You Don’t Know Like I Know was a hit single and you can hear why in its catchy refrain and beat. Sam & Dave and their producers had an ability to give earthy, authentic soul an attractive edge. Blame Me (Don’t Blame My Heart) is a fine soulful tearjerker to end this  impressive album with. This was one of Atlantic/Stax’s best albums of the period, up there with Eddie Floyd and Arthur Conley’s debut albums. Its sound had a huge influence, particularly on artists like Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart.

The sound quality on the album is good too, nice and full and bassy, especially for 1966.