[RATING: 5] And here is the latest drop on Tramp Records‘ excellent The Story Of… series – can we seriously expect the quality to continue? Of course we can it’s Tramp Records! Good god why would you even raise the question? You didn’t? Let’s hear no more about it then. Now – Lonnie Lester – there’s a man with soul CV. Went on the road with Junior Walker, opened for Sam & Dave, the Drifters, Aretha, and Little Willy John and despite ‘retiring’ in the early nineties, still (in common with previous Story Of… star Jimmy ‘Preacher’ Ellis) performs in his own hood.
As with everyone else who travelled the chitlin circuit for any length of time, Lester’s repertoire covered a range of genres as times and tastes shifted and this sixteen tracker exemplifies exactly that versatility. There’s sixties rnb, for example, everything from torch song slowie You Choose to noisy shuffler The Meanest Man In Town. You will also find yourself a little soul jazz (Jay Walk), blues (the superb I Have Never Been Blue) and, of course, straight up funk and soul. It’s this material which contributes most of the album’s highlights including the vaguely Memphis Soul Stew-ish shaker Can’t Let You Go (both parts), uptempo soul burner Ain’t That A Shame and conscious funk that sticks it to the man like Power Structure – again, both parts. And, since Tramp’s crate-digging owner, Tobias Kirmayer, is nothing if not a completist – you even get a pair of dusty, crusty alternate versions of So This Is Love and Meanest Man In Town – god alone knows what the originals of those go for in collector’s circles. But I know a man who does.
(Out now on Tramp Records)