Howard Tates Get It While You Can: The Legendary Sessions is probably the best reissue Ive heard by someone Ive never heard of. These 17 tracks, recorded in 1966-68 for Verve, explode from the speakers with horn-driven, organ-swinging Soul singing of the first order. So who was this guy? Born in Macon, GA, in 1938, Tate was raised in Philadelphia. He was discovered by producer/writer Jerry Ragovoy who got him into legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelders New Jersey studio to cut some singles. Some more sessions followed, and a 10-track album was released in 1967 and re-released later with two more B-sides added. He did a little more work, but then disappeared by the early 1970s. And that appears to be it. A mystery man with a world-class voice.
While he had no big hits, he exerted quite an influence on other musicians. Listen to the title track, "Get It While You Can," and youll hear what inspired Janis Joplin to cover it. The same goes for "Aint Nobody Home" (covered by B.B. King) and "Stop" (covered by both Jimi Hendrix and Hugh Masekela).
And Tate does a fine job of taking other peoples songs and making them his own --- his versions of "Everyday I Have the Blues" and "Part-Time Love" are as good as any.
Discovering treasures like Howard Tate is one of the unexpected joys of the blues/Soul reissues. Mercury is to be commended for this one, and you owe it to yourself to get a copy.
--- Mark K. Miller
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