August 31, 1999
Hard Luck Guy,
Eddie Hinton (Capricorn Records), 1999.
Not many people know Eddie Hinton. I'll admit I'd never heard of him before this album came to me. Hinton was a songwriter, producer, singer and guitarist who played a significant role in the Muscle Shoals music scene in the late sixties and early seventies. Artists ranging from Dusty Springfield to Percy Sledge have benefited from his soulful writing talents. Now Eddie's talents are showcased as he performs his own music his own way.
Jerry Wexler calls Hinton "a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated." One of the two covers on the album is Otis Redding's "Sad Song," and even without his adoring tribute it's obvious that artists like Redding were a profound and central influence for Hinton. "Watch Dog" is a gritty track that shows how easy Eddie (listen to this album and you'll call him Eddie too - his music is that honest) can move into bluesy numbers. On that same track, Eddie sings and plays drums, guitar and bass. "Can't Beat Me" is a sad tribute to love lost that's melancholy and full of remembrance. Like any good soul album, there's a constant theme of love-gone-wrong and love-that-feels-good.
Eddie's songs are good-natured and full of humor as well. On "Lovin Chain" he sings: "Went on down to see the witchy woman, and this is what she said,/Son, get yo'self a lovin chain, tie her down the head, tie her to the bed." "Three Hundred Pounds of Hongry" pays homage to lovin' a big woman with Eddie playing an impressive harmonica lead. Eddie also does a rendition of "Unbangi Stomp," a rock and roll, honky tonk-tinged romp previously done by Jerry Lee Lewis and Warren Smith.
Pure and simple, Eddie Hinton has soul. Therein lies the beauty of Hard Luck Guy. Full of pleasure, nostalgia, love and humor this is a frank and wonderful album. As Eddie puts it, ".... can’t beat the kid, he's too much for ya,/can't beat the kid, he's a lil destroyer...."
THESE HANDS OF MINE,
Mr. Quintron (Skin Graft Records), 1999.
Mr. Quintron is quite an enigma. In his interviews he is sly and obtuse and, if you want to print any of his quotes, you can forget it -- it’s not allowed. The only solid information we have on Quintron is that he got his start in the Chicago underground music scene but now he makes his home in New Orleans’s 9th Ward, where he is the owner of a lounge (The Spellcaster) as well as an organ player in his own one-man band. An interesting rumor about our man Quintron is that in some years past he dated Gillian Anderson of “The X-Files” and, when his live show is in her Area (51?), she can sometimes be spotted in the audience.
As for Mr. Quintron’s sound, it has been compared to a bizzaro Jerry Lee Lewis or a schizophrenic Thelonoius Monk. On his new album, THESE HANDS OF MINE, the listener is confronted with a freakish barrage of rhyme, chant and harmony. At times the pact of the music is slowed to a soulful groove, but for the most part it is very much alive and even danceable. Though he is billed as a one-man band (His only bandmate is his own invention: the Drum Buddy, which is some sort of Frankensteinan contraption described by its inventor as a light- activated, rotating drum machine combined, somehow, with a theremin.), Quintron’s sound is never slight. By featuring unpredictable carnival riffs with such sounds as Indian war-whoops, kid’s shouts and even railroad-crossing signals, Quintron proves that any sound can be music.
If you like primitive R&B sounds of 1950’s New Orleans or the bands heard on the Crypt label, then THESE HANDS OF MINE may be for you. Other, more modern comparisons for Mr. Quintron are the loungey Tipsy, the electronic Sukia or the raw style of Bob Logg. Also, keep an eye out for Quintron coming to town for a show at Southside near the end of September. His live show is a howl and usually includes a puppet show by his wife, Miss Pussycat.
-- Chuck Cox
OUT OF HAND,
Billy McLaughlin (Narada Records), 1999.
Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, James Brown and Billy McLaughlin. Where do these artists receive their inspiration? From a place deeper, darker and more personal than their heart. These artists are held captive by their souls. Their freedom is achieved by producing art above and beyond the creativity granted average human beings. They set new horizons, break rules and change perspectives. Like other pioneers, Billy’s guitar work is a sound that deserves to be heard. His technical ability is astounding, but the emotion conveyed with each note is what sets him apart. Billy’s latest album, OUT OF HAND, steps outside of the usual guitar sound heard on solo albums and utilizes the talents of his former drummer, Kirk Johnson, who now performs with The Artist (formerly known as Prince) and the results are absolutely awesome. The 10 tracks including an instrumental version of the Eagle classic “Best of My Love,” bring McLaughlin’s music to a level never experienced before. Each guitar note, each drumbeat and each digitalized keyboard stroke has purpose, meaning and soul. The title track, “Out of Hand,” starts with an electric/acoustic crescendo that envelops the listener and continues throughout. Highlights include the ethereal “Candleman,” named for Billy’s practice of burning candles at his live performances; and dedicated to all the thrill seekers who make the number 10 inconsequential, and “Soulmates,” a Celtic inspired tune celebrating those that have found their own and inspiration for those still looking.
Billy McLaughlin has found his soulmate and it is music. He delivers his music with such passion that it is impossible not to be drawn in. Billy McLaughlin is an artist that obliterates lines, aurally excites and delivers his sound with soul.
-- Dan Herman