MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Soul music is in the midst of another revival. But no need to tell people in the Deep South, soul is still a vital part of live and recorded music there. And a new compilation called "Motel Lovers" proves it, according to our critic Robert Christgau.
ROBERT CHRISTGAU: I've enjoyed a lot of this revivalism, absolutely. But it invariably feels a little like a museum project, more about aesthetic sensibility than living, emotional needs. That's not a problem with the contemporary chitlin-circuit compilation "Motel Lovers."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SMALLER THE CLUB")
BLOCK: (Singing) Five dollars you've got to pay.
CHRISTGAU: (Singing) Just a jukebox and no deejay.
BLOCK: (Singing) Just a jukebox and no deejay.
CHRISTGAU: Others, like the late Johnnie Taylor's son Floyd, modernize familiar situations.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HIT IT RIGHT")
BLOCK: (Singing) Man, fellows, we in trouble. When I come home from work the other day, I couldn't get my woman to bring me no bath water. I couldn't get her to bring me my house shoes. She said, if you want to have it your way, you better go to Burger King.
CHRISTGAU: Cheating songs that aren't quite sex songs are common in "Motel Lovers." And like Taylor's, they often have a proto-feminist twist. The most touching comes from 66-year-old Barbara Carr, who quit showbiz and worked a factory job for 20 years before coming back in the '90s with an acrobatic showstopper called "Footprints on the Ceiling." This 2006 recording, "Down Low Brother," is more reflective.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "DOWN LOW BROTHER")
BLOCK: (Singing) I didn't want to tell nobody 'cause I was embarrassed and ashamed when I caught my man one night in bed with another man. I thought it was unusual for him not being gay. I thought a straight up man didn't go that way.
CHRISTGAU: SOUNGBITE OF SONG, "MOTEL LOVERS"
BLOCK: (Singing) Oh, yeah.
BLOCK: SOUNGBITE OF SONG, "MOTEL LOVERS"
BLOCK: (Singing) I know you're married and so am I, honey. And we're cheating...
BLOCK: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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