Tommy Boy Records
Boy, was this a surprise! I really didn't know what to expect from
Roy Young on his CD, Memphis. Here's a Jamaican born singer
that was discovered while performing in Tel Aviv, Israel, and it was
decided to bring him to Memphis to record with the legendary Willie
Mitchell in his Royal Studios. What came out of this unusual partnership
was a quite personal and unique recording. Though it has a Memphis soul
sound, it is much, much more.
It is hard to compare Young's gravely voice to anyone else, but to me it
was sort of Tom Waits meets Wilson Pickett with a touch of Solomon
Some of the tracks are sensational, such as the opening track, "Don't
Call It Love," with some nice B3 organ, piano, and strings, great Gil
Askey (of Motown fame) arrangements, and a few Pickett shrieks to make
Track two, "So Strange," has such familiar names as Lester Snell on
piano, Leroy Hodges on bass, Preston Shannon on guitar and the great
Jackie Jackson on background vocals. It's Sunday and by now I am
thoroughly into this disc, thoughts of football a thing of the past, and
I am ready for more Young (that's Roy not Vince).
Track three, "Everybody Hurts," bowls me over. It is the closest to pure
Memphis soul, with Young's weathered voice revealing the apparent hurt
he has experienced in his life. It is a classic interpretation of this
great R.E.M. song and a version that should be accessible to any
listener. Whew, I'm floored.
"Half Past July" has a touch of his Jamaican influence. A quite abstract
"The Age of Sadness," a poetry reading with a great rhythmic groove,
will be more difficult for some, but after a few listens, I was
enthralled by the arrangement and his Al Green inflections. There's a
fabulous ballad, "Beautiful," which will have those deep soul fans out
there raising their hands.
The final track, "Bring In The Dawn," is just Young's soulful voice with
only a melancholy solo piano. It is a fitting conclusion to this
For a reviewer that listens to so many new releases that all have a
similar programmed copycat sound, it is refreshing to come across a
session with real musicians and 'spare no expense' production. It is the
way great records used to be made by producers like Willie Mitchell,
Jerry Ragavoy and Rick Hall. Quality always shines through.
I urge you to check out his web site ---
--- to experience both visually and musically this great new talent
before us. You decide.
--- Alan Shutro