Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Malaco The Last Soul Company presents 50 Years of Excellence

(Malaco, 2018) This is my favorite Record Store Day release this year because it presents 10 songs of stunningly equal excellence, created formulaically, but with a formula so perfect it gives innovation a bad name. Malaco was put on the map by King Floyd's killer "Groove Me" but found their lane with Z. Z. Hill's "Down Home Blues," a blues song so good that it became a hot hit well past the days when a blues song could become a hot hit. From then on Malaco's identity became the label that made juke joint soul music for whomever still wanted juke joint soul music in the 80, 90, 00s and beyond, be it older African Americans, European soul fiends, or anyone else with good taste. Combining solid, straightforward songwriting, excellent artists, the same perfect backup singing on almost every record, funky grooves, and (from the 80s on) keyboards doing their thing, Malaco never wavered. Unlike Ichiban, which got into the juke joint jams game while still releasing nasty hip hop (and Vanilla Ice) Malaco had their eyes on the prize. While they released a more comprehensive CD box set, and a few late night TV mailorder CD collections, what makes this concise comp so special is getting latter day cuts like Johnnie Taylor's "Last Two Dollars" and Mel Waiters "Hole in the Wall" on vinyl, which may exist somewhere but I've never come across them. As Little Milton makes clear --  hey -- the blues is alright! And as Denise Lasalle makes clearer, your husband is out there shooting pool with his dick. Lessons learned! Thank you Malaco.

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