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Godson of Soul

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Album Review

Ellis Hooks had parents who, on either side of his heritage, were involved in theology, or were liquor runners. Coming from the heart of Alabama and heading to Europe, Japan, and New York to find his stardom, Hooks has become a classic soul singer in the mode of Arthur Alexander, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Otis Clay. He uses a rock & roll or funk base in his rhythm, as there is more an emphasis on the down strokes rather than traditional back porch or rural sounds. He sports solid, unspectacular vocal chops, very good range, a gritty but not raw quality, and a repertoire that does reflect the up and down blues of life. Hooks wrote or co-wrote all of the material here, with compositional and instrumental help from multi-instrumentalist and producer Jon Tiven and his wife, electric bass guitarist Sally Tiven. Occasionally veteran Chester Thompson or Billy Block pound out the punchy beats. On the upside, Hooks plays the slick gambler with a horn complement for the steady "High Roller," the re-formed playboy on the fast "Little Bitta Lovin'," and sings praise for humanity and love during "You Changed My Life." He's at he bottom of the barrel, with no family or home next to Jon Tiven's shimmering guitar on "Five Times," does a self-doubting/baby left me tune with "Black Nights, Blue Moon," and endures self-examination in "A Phase I'm Going Through." Mason Casey contributes some fine harmonica licks for the post-sex theme "Show Me Your Love," and rips up the shuffle boogie "Rock My Stone" with Jon Tiven shining on slide guitar. Steve Cropper makes a cameo guitar appearance on the nonplussed "Was It Something I Said?," while Marty Brown helps Hooks vocally, trying to wriggle out of the hustle on a woman opposite her seven foot boyfriend on "Chainsaw" (the lyric is, he needs a "chainsaw" to get out of this mess). Not so much blues as Memphis soul, but done well, Ellis Hooks has a fine future ahead of him, as this CD clearly indicates. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 1974 in Bayminett, AL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s

Until the arrival of Ellis Hooks on the 21st century blues and soul scenes with his now-signature meld of R&B, blues and Southern gospel, it seemed that the great stories surrounding these musics had already been told and passed into antiquity with the great names assigned to them -- Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, James Carr, and Sam Cooke, to name a few. Not so. Ellis Hooks was born in Bayminette, Alabama, between Birmingham and Montgomery. He is the 13th of 16 children born to sharecroppers....
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Godson of Soul, Ellis Hooks
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