Review - Respect Yourself

Artist: Otis Clay

Don't be fooled. Despite the fact that he's on a modern blues label, Otis Clay is an old-school rhythm-and-blues singer, with a long history as a sort of second-class citizen in that genre. Although he recorded dozens of sides throughout the 1960s and '70s, he really only garnered acclaim for a couple of singles ("That's How It Is" and "Trying To Live My Life Without You" – which was butchered by Bob Seger). But blessed with a solid, well-worn voice and an unswerving devotion to the hard-driving Memphis/Muscle Shoals soul sound, he's remained a presence on the blues circuit, since that seems to be the only place that accepts for-real soul singers. This 2003 festival recording suffers from a backing band that's more often accurate than emotional, but Clay's still-strong voice redeems the affair. He doesn't touch his two big hits, preferring to tackle standards from the Parliaments and Al Green and letting his voice drown out the anonymous playing going on behind him.

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