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Better to Have It

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Crítica do álbum

The early to mid-2000s witnessed the recording return of such soul giants as Solomon Burke and Al Green. While Bobby Purify doesn't rank up with these legends, his return is a welcome one too. Purify (aka Ben Moore) was not the first Bobby Purify — as in James & Bobby Purify, the R&B duo who scored the '60s soul-pop smash "I'm Your Puppet." He only became "Bobby Purify" in the early '70s and sang on a latter-day British hit version of "Puppet." Moore/Purify went on to have a successful career in the gospel field, including a Grammy nomination for his 1982 He Believes in Me. After going blind in 1998, he quit performing. Better to Have It stands as a triumphant return to music. He wisely teams up with "Puppet" co-writer Dan Penn, who serves the album's producer and co-writes 12 of the disc's 13 songs. Penn surrounds Purify with the cream of Muscle Shoals musicians (bassist David Hood, guitarist Jimmie Johnson, and Penn's longtime collaborator Spooner Oldham on keyboards) as well as Memphis Horns trumpeter Wayne Jackson and post-Booker T.-era MG keyboardist Carson Whitsett. Together they create a classic soul sound for Purify. While nothing here eclipses "Puppet," there definitely is much to enjoy. On songs like the glorious title track, the Motown-flavored "Things Happen," and the easygoing "You Make Me Dig," Purify and company serve up quintessential Southern soul with arrangements grooved to a laid-back blend of horns, keyboards, and guitar. Purify's robust, sixty-year-old-plus voice possesses both a smoothness and a grittiness, suggesting both the church and the street. It's a joy to listen when it all comes together, as in the marvelous R&B ballad "Testimony of a Fool." Occasionally, the album does go overboard. For example, the spoken intro to "I'm Qualified" feels a little old-fashioned and the disc closer, "Only in America," is well meaning but overly earnest. However, even the slightly silly story-song "The Pond" gets redeemed by Purify's commanding presence. Be it the '60s or the 2000s, Better to Have It stands as a quality example of Southern soul for any era.

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Better to Have It, Bobby Purify
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