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April 2001

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Roscoe Shelton & Earl Gaines
Let's Work Together
Cannonball Records

Roscoe Shelton and Earl Gaines - Let's Work TogetherI'd like to start this review with a thank you to all those involved with the release of Roscoe Shelton & Earl Gaines' Let's Work Together. It is a wonderful release by two veterans still on top of their craft. They were label mates on the Excello label back in the late 50s, and they both performed sporadically over the years until their careers were entwined once again by Fred James on the Appaloosa label in the mid 90s. They each had fine releases on Black Top in 1998, and now we have this new one, which reaches an even more exalted level than their other recent projects. 

The formula for this release is a simple one. Five of the tracks are duets and eight are individual ones, allowing their solo talents to shine in addition to the partnerships. The songs all work well, with some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue, and fall into the following pattern --- a duet, one by Shelton, one by Gaines and back to a duet. 

The album opens with a totally reworked version of the Wilbert Harrison chestnut "Let's Work Together," which is an appropriate title to kick off this project. 

One listen to Roscoe Shelton's voice on his mournful "Blue And Miserably Unhappy" or Earl Gaines' soulful "Best Of Luck To You," which originally appeared on the Hanna-Barbera label in the mid 60s, and you're transported to a place few contemporary singers can achieve. It is the emotionally-charged, gospel-based music known as Deep Soul. My highest recommendation.

--- Alan Shutro

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