Luther Lackey

Daddy B. Nice's #62 ranked Southern Soul Artist



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"She Only Wants To See Me On Friday"

Luther Lackey

February 1, 2014: NEW ARTIST GUIDE ALERT!


Luther Lackey is now the #18-ranking Southern Soul artist on Daddy B. Nice's new 21st Century Top 100 Countdown.

Go to Daddy B. Nice's new 21st-Century Artist Guide to Luther Lackey.

*************


June 10, 2012:

LUTHER LACKEY: The Contender (CDS) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.


Is your Daddy B. Nice the only guy who thinks Luther Lackey is the best thing to hit Southern Soul since Johnnie Taylor? What's not to like? What's not to admire?

Imagine if Sir Charles Jones dropped a new CD annually. Imagine if O. B. Buchana or Donnie Ray, who do release annual albums, presented material this compelling every time out.

Imagine if Clarksdale, Mississippi natives Buchana and Lackey got together like the Everly Brothers or Sam and Dave. And what's more, imagine those two incredible voices intertwining on vocals.

Luther Lackey has received more laudatory reviews here than any other Southern Soul artist of the last decade, and yet Lackey languishes in a musical limbo, under-appreciated, under-played and seldom seen.

Listen to Luther Lackey singing "Just Because He's Preaching" on YouTube while you read.

If Lackey toured with the intensity of Sir Charles Jones and T. K. Soul, would he reach the "tipping point" in becoming a fan favorite?

Does the fact that Lackey is a studio recording genius, reclusive and introspective, concentrating on product rather than appearances, explain his difficulty in drawing legions of fans?

Lackey's albums, like the vintage albums of Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, The Band, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Sly & The Family Stone, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, are awash in rich melodies, acerbic lyrics, aggressive vocals, and stunning background arrangements with breathtaking, layered harmonies.

Or is the very problem the fact that Luther Lackey excels at making albums? Not so much singles?

One thing is for sure. Luther Lackey feels the sting of every rejection, every slight and every explicit or implied dismissal. It's Luther Lackey against the world, and maybe that's what fuels the artist. Perhaps only a burning and seething ambition born of constant frustration is what Lackey needs to summon his muse.

So deeply do the artistic fires burn in Lackey-- and so baffling is his lack of connection with the Southern Soul fan base--it's even been suggested here that Lackey's songs may be too complex, too witty, too well-done, if that's even possible.

But do we really want a dumbed-down Luther Lackey churning out "Booty Roll's?" I don't think so.

Last year your Daddy B. Nice elevated "Hold My Mule," an otherwise obscure song from Lackey's last album, to one of the highest spots on Daddy B. Nice's Top 25 Southern Soul Singles of 2011, writing:

9. "Hold My Mule"---------Luther Lackey

Great foray into folklore and fable. The song has an aura of timelessness. But the best part for the Southern Soul fan is hearing a less cerebral Lackey deliver perhaps his most unguarded vocal ever. His humming in the chorus is to die for.

Daddy B. Nice Honors Luther Lackey as 2011's Best Southern Soul Male Vocalist ("Hold My Mule") and Best Southern Soul Arranger/Producer (Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man CD)


See Daddy B. Nice's Best Of Southern Soul Awards: 2011.

"Hold My Mule" didn't "dumb down" Lackey's ouevre. It channeled Lackey's creativity through a more direct and accessible metaphor, one less self-involved, more humorous.

And Lackey's new album, The Contender,
coming on the heels of Lackey's surprising switch of record labels (Ecko to CDS), resumes exactly where "Hold My Mule" left off. Lackey focuses on a simple metaphor, the same "blind snake" (the one situated between a man's legs) Bobby Rush first drew attention to with his tune of the same title in 2009.

Lackey borrows Rush's concept along with the Ecko background arrangement from Denise LaSalle's "Mississippi Woman" and comes up with a propulsive, careening single even the most attention-bombarded listener can keep up with.

Listen to Luther Lackey singing "Blind Blind Snake" on YouTube while you read.

See Daddy B. Nice's #10 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for May 2012.

"Blind Blind Snake" segues into "We Need To Work It Out," a song that references Lackey's aforementioned mentor Johnnie Taylor's "Cheaper To Keep Her." And although comparisons between the storied J.T. and Lackey are admittedly stretches, the master and the student do share the same penchant for lyrical consistency and sharp-edged lyrics.

"I Think She's Cheating On Me" is a typical Lackey ballad, agenda-driven, impeccably sung, with additional harmonies of note.

"Thang (Ain't Everything)" is a reminder that Lackey, like Bob Dylan on "Highway 61 Revisited," can lather up a fast song with a spit-shine worthy of the best.

"Just Because He's Preaching" likewise tackles one of Lackey's familiar themes.

See Daddy B. Nice's #2 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for June 2012.

2. "Just Because He's Preaching"------------Luther Lackey
Awash in gospel/barbershop/Persuasions-on-the-street-corner harmonies, Luther Lackey's ballad dissects one of his favorite subjects, the hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness of preachers and their flocks.

"From the waist down,"
Luther warns,
"He's still a man."


"Just Because He's Preaching" is to THE CONTENDER what Ms. Jody's "When Your Give A Damn Don't Give A Damn" was to her five-star-rated MS. JODY'S IN THE HOUSE CD late last year--pure southern soul heaven.

With its repetitive, simplistic chord changes, "Just Because He's Preaching" is nevertheless consistently fresh-sounding, with the brunt of the inspiration in the foreground and background vocals (all performed by multi-tasker Lackey). The integrity of the song is buried in the way Lackey sings it.

And when Luther sings--

"While we were walking
Across the parking lot,
Preacher rolled up
In his hundred thousand dollar car..."

--the scorpion-like sting of Lackey's judgment rushes over the beautiful background of the melody with the same tension we've become accustomed to hearing in "I Should Have Stayed Scared" and other Lackey standards.

And yes, the set contains the obligatory Lackey song about being "scared": "I Got Scared Again." This outing features one of Lackey's most gentle melodies and also one of his most mellow vocals.

"I Don't Want To Go Back Home" is one of those preternaturally lyrical and melodic songs that grace every Luther Lackey CD. It's a driving song, in more ways than one. Not only does it motor to a driving beat and (at one point) a burning, Isley's-style guitar.

The subject is a cheating man returning home in his car and wanting to put it off rather than face his mate. (It's his first time, you see.) But the song has a surprise twist that veteran Southern Soul fans can undoubtedly predict.

Once more the background vocals are worth the price of admission, evoking singing cowboys around a campfire on the prairie.

If there are any wallflowers on this album, they'd be "Cleaning House" and "You Will Reap What You Sow," in which Lackey falls off a bit, relegated to the more generic level of a typical artist.

The album closes with reprises of "Blind Blind Snake" and "Just Because He's Preaching." However, the track that precedes them is also one of the most unique: the scathingly autobiographical "When I'm Gone."

"People say they don't like me,
Or the way that I write and sing.
They say my songs are just too deep,
But I get the stories from reality.

Mama said, 'Son, don't forget.
Everybody's got stuff to deal with.
But you got to do your best
And remember life's a test.'"

Bridge:

"I'm tired now.
Wondering somehow..."

Chorus:

"Will you miss me when I'm gone?
Or will you party all night long?
You will miss your water when it's gone.
But will you miss me when I'm gone?"

This is the Luther Lackey we know through his music over the years. On-the-brink. Brilliant. Resentful. Dramatic. A knotted enigma poised to blossom in spectacular beauty or consuming flames.

"Growing up in Clarksdale,"

--Lackey continues--

"Life was like a living hell.
Classmates can be so mean.
I believe they all hated me.

So just to get them off of my back,
I acted a fool and I made them laugh.
Though I'm grown it's the same way now.
Some people call me just to give me

But I'm sick of it now,
And I'm wondering somehow...

Will you miss me when I'm gone?
Or will you party all night long?
You will miss your water when it's gone.
Will you miss me when I'm gone?"

Done? All the bile expunged? No way. Luther has an inexhaustible supply:

"Writing songs for this Southern Soul.
It's segregated music, why I don't know.
They play my songs on the radio.
People say I'm famous but I'm still broke.
Trying to sell my songs to pay my child support,
And can't see my kids, how it hurts me so."

That's the thing about Luther. You don't need to say it for him. He'll do it for himself, thank you.

So there you have him--one of the most fascinating of the young crop of contemporary Southern Soul stars--with another five-star album, the first Southern Soul CD since Ms. Jody's that you can spin beginning to end, again and again, and still want to hear more.

But tell me. Will YOU miss Luther Lackey before he's gone?

--Daddy B. Nice

Bargain-Priced Luther Lackey THE CONTENDER CD.

Sample or Buy Luther Lackey songs from THE CONTENDER on I-Tunes.

**********

Luther Lackey fans familiar with this page can also find key entries and links for additional Luther Lackey information in Daddy B. Nice's "Comprehensive Index."

Updates and Daddy B. Nice's CD reviews of Luther Lackey's recent CD's are available by scrolling down to the "Tidbits" section below.

***********

Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:

The Southern Soul scene is building up pressure like your Daddy B. Nice's mama's canning kitchen on a hot, sultry August afternoon. The music is teeming with old, new and established stars, but if you venture outside the chitlin' circuit, it's so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Yet, Southern Soul music's momentum continues to build. New artists, artists passionate about the form, artists who might otherwise have gone into urban R&B or gospel, appear very nearly on a daily basis, showcasing a dazzling variety of songs that find airplay on a proliferating network of Southern Soul radio stations.

Meanwhile, the old guard gives way to the new. Where once Southern Soul was the province of Z. Z. Hill, Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton and Bobby "Blue" Bland singing the hits of Homer Banks, Lester Snell, Frederick Knight and George Jackson, the new Southern Soul features The Love Doctor or Willie Clayton or Will T. singing the songs of Sir Charles Jones or T. K. Soul or Floyd Hamberlin, Jr.

Luther Lackey is in that rich Southern Soul songwriting tradition. Your Daddy B. Nice stumbled upon the gospel-influenced young man by way of his credit as songwriter on one of the most memorable songs of 2003, Mr. Zay's "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday" (from Mardi Gras Record's Ultimate Southern Soul sampler).

"My woman's got a habit,
And she's got it bad.
It's not a pipe or needle.
It's a shopping bag."

The song was nothing short of astounding. A back-up singer played the preacher in a disarming call and response with Mr. Zay. Mr. Zay complained that his woman was more interested in going down to the mall and spending his money than she was in him.

"I know what you're talking about," the reverend confessed in the song's climax, "Because the way your woman been treating you/ My wife's been treating me the same!"

In retrospect it seems more than possible that the back-up singer in Mr. Zay's "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday" was Luther Lackey himself. You can hear Lackey's version of "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday" on his fine debut CD, I'm Talking To You (Goodtime, 2005), along with at least two other bona fide chitlin' circuit hits, "Scared Of Getting Caught" and "Call Your Outside Woman."

One of the best Southern Soul songs of the new century, "Scared Of Getting Caught" is a husband's admission that he'd probably "cheat" on his wife if only he could avoid the stress and paranoia associated with being discovered. An "outside" woman is putting on the pressure:

"Says she'll do all the things
That my woman won't.

Says she'll play freaky games,
Like 'Now you see it, and now you don't.'"

Remember Ronnie Lovejoy's lack of accountability in "Sho' Wasn't Me"? Lackey transforms Lovejoy's icon to bedroom imperturbability into a Walter Mittyesque bundle of nerves, a daydreamer who can appreciate the spoils but just can't tolerate the risk.

"I said, 'Baby I'm flattered,
But I just can't.
When she asked me why,
I said, 'Let me explain.

'If I wasn't scared of getting caught,
I'd sure try to get it on.
And if I wasn't scared of loving you,
Ain't no telling what I'd do.

'If I knew how to cover my tracks,
I'd be right where you're at.
But just like I said,
I won't because I'm scared.'"

This is witty, original songwriting--and superimposed on a worthy melody, by the way. The honesty is refreshing, as is the song's ability to hone in on a secret of faithful spouses everywhere: that marital virtue owes as much to bashfulness as fortitude.

Also impressive about Lackey's "Scared Of Getting Caught" are the vocal fireworks: the modulations in pitch and tempo, the fanciful note-bending, and the lapses into street vernacular. Lackey can wield his voice with the precision of a whip, and any excess on his part is more than redeemed by the infectious joy with which he cracks it. In fact, Lackey reminds one of Sammy Davis Jr. in the breadth of his talent and in his mastery of the cherished tricks and "tics" of the singing trade. (He may sing about being bashful, but he ain't.)

In another great cut from the I'm Talking To You CD, "Call Your Outside Woman," Lackey sings his own wife's indictment of himself:

"You ain't gonna get no more of my love,
So you might as well call your outside woman.
And tell her to pick your sorry ass up."

Like Bobby Rush's hero in "Dirty Dog," who takes his wife's side and repeats "You liar, you cheater," over and over, almost as if he enjoys the self-rebuke, Lackey projects himself into his spouse's mind with gusto. Then he switches to his point of view, describing the uncomfortable situation with his "outside" woman.

"I told the other woman, 'Come on, get me,'
But she said to me, 'No, I don't want to do it,'
Your wife's going to get all your money,
And I don't like my men broke.'"

And it's the "outside woman" who circles back to Lackey's favorite theme.

"'You're just sorry,' the outside woman says,
'Because your ass got caught.'"

Luther Lackey is one of the most intriguing of the new generation of Southern Soul artists, a singer-slash-songwriter of the first order. And the best part is that his stuff has a power that hints at great things to come.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Luther Lackey

Lackey first arrived on the scene when he logged an important songwriting credit via Mr. Zay's 2003 chitlin' circuit hit, "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday." But he had already been recording music since 1998, self-produced albums that never found labels or distribution: among them, My Woman Has 5 Babies But None Of Them Are Mine, I Thought I Married A Fool (which marked the first appearance of "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday")and Down South Funk.

Lackey finally made a big splash with chitlin' circuit insiders with his solo debut, I'm Talking To You (Goodtime, 2005). Two songs from the album--"Scared Of Getting Caught" and "Call Your Outside Woman"--received substantial airplay on the Stations of the Deep South, establishing Lackey as one of the most promising of the new generation of Southern Soul artists.

Luther Lackey Discography

I Thought I Married A Fool (Luther Lackey, 2000)

Down South Funk (LuLack, 2002)

I'm Talking To You (Goodtime, 2005)

I Should Have Stayed Scared (Ecko, 2007)

Jody's Got My Problems (Ecko, 2009)

The Preacher's Wife (Ecko, 2010)

Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man (Ecko, 2011)

(Scroll down to "Tidbits" section for Daddy B. Nice's recent CD reviews of Luther Lackey albums.)





Song's Transcendent Moment

"I'm just scared.
I'm scared in the morning.
I'm just scared in the evening.
Scared in the midnight hour."


Tidbits

1. "God Help That Southern Boy," a new country-western song from an upcoming album of the same name, appeared in May of 2006 under the name of Luther Lackey. For anyone who doubted Lackey's far-reaching scope and brashness, the CD was a wake-up call, and for Southern Soul's insiders the song and CD will prove a litmus test.

Southern Soul artists "crossing over" into country music are rare but not without precedent. To name just a few instances, Bobby Jonz sings country, Sunny Ridell has played with Charlie Daniels and Willie Nelson; Candi Staton did a faithful version of "Stand By Your Man"; Sam Moore recorded a soulful duet with Conway Twitty of "Rainy Night In Georgia" that rivals the original; not to mention the work of the great Ray Charles himself.

2. March 31, 2007

It turns out Luther Lackey does have "another life"--or a previous life--as a local and/or nationally-aspiring country-western singer. See "Tidbits" below. It has been a dream of countless black artists, including the great Bobby Womack, to be another Charlie Pride, but most--including Womack--have failed.

According to an article posted in the "Jackson Free Press" in 2004, a year before the release of his debut Southern Soul CD, I'm Talking To You (2005), Lackey already had a "copyrighted" pure-country CD out called At Least I Tried. Printed across the label was the legend: "The Best Country Singer You've Never Heard!"

Your Daddy B. Nice finds this interesting in light of the recent success of Ms. Jody's country-tinged hit, "I Never Take A Day Off," and the arrival of aspiring country-western (and black) singer Tricia Barnwell, who does unabashedly country treatments of songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "The First Cut Is The Deepest." Even Bigg Robb's and Carl Marshall's recent remix of "Good Loving Will Make You Cry," while drenched in sythesizer-funk, had a country feel to it at times.

There's a lot of territory to be plowed on R&B's boundaries with country, and given the originality inherent in Luther Lackey's Southern Soul material, there seems to be no reason Lackey couldn't incorporate his love of country into his R&B songwriting.

Sadly, Luther has published no new Southern Soul CD's since his promising debut.

Two recent Luther Lackey items, one negative and one positive, may interest fans.

Last year (2007, or perhaps late '06) Luther posted a letter of artistic frustration on the Internet. The rant--full of real pain and diminished hope, sort of a "I'm paying my dues and I can't stand it any more" letter--was carried on Funky Larry Jones' Soul & Blues Report. Your Daddy B. Nice remembers being so taken aback by the personal urgency in the letter that I commented (sympathetically) on it to Funky Larry.

The positive development in Lackey's career came in the latter half of 2007, when Luther's vocal cameo (the final stanza) graced one of big step-brother O. B. Buchana's hits from his 2007 Ecko release, Goin' Back Home.

Here's how your Daddy B. Nice put it in the Buchana "Tidbits" section:

"For my money, the outstanding track on the CD--the tune that plows new ground and showcases Buchana's unique tenor by virtue of an original arrangement--is "All My Money's Gone." O.B.'s brother, Luther Lackey, has a brilliant cameo in which his "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday" is woven into the finale of the track."

And "woven" it is, reminding the Southern Soul audience that Luther Lackey hasn't gone anywhere.

--Daddy B. Nice

3. August 30, 2008

The wait is over, and it was worth it. Luther Lackey has finally published the follow-up to his touted debut, I'm Talking To You. I don't think I've been this excited by a new album in some time. The title cut, "I Should Have Stayed Scared," is Number One on Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles for September 2008.

Truthfully, I could have picked from any one of a number of interesting and innovative tracks, but "I Should Have Stayed Scared" is representative: great material and vocal, with great production and an arrangement whose crowning achievement is a back-up male vocal with Persuasions-style harmony.

Anyone who heard Lackey's first songs knew he had over-the-top talent. The fact that he was an accomplished songwriter made him even more rare. But what really distinguishes him from equally-talented newcomers like Simeo, Cupid, B. Dupree and 100% Cotton is his growing up immersed in Mississipi Southern Soul music, which makes his innovations work with devastating effect.

Check out the horn charts on "The Blues Is Alright." They're just incredible in their "newness," yet they fit the fabric of rhythm and blues. While this kind of experimentation would likely fail in the hands of anyone less immersed in north-central Mississippi's idiosyncratic blend of blues and R&B, Luther Lackey "gets away with it." That's what has your Daddy B. Nice fascinated. Lackey sounds simultaneously traditional and revolutionary, which is about the highest compliment one can give any artist.

The album's still so fresh it'd be premature to say too much, but on first impressions alone Luther Lackey's second Southern Soul CD has catapulted him from #97 to #81 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's--00's). And it's not too early to say that the CD almost certainly holds the promise of being a milestone in the career of Luther Lackey.

--Daddy B. Nice

Bargain-Priced I Should Have Stayed Scared CD

4. April 24, 2009: New Album Alert

Jody's Got My Problems

5. June 14, 2009

LUTHER LACKEY: Jody's Got My Problems! (Ecko) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

In 2008 Luther Lackey stunned the Southern Soul music world with an album of cutting-edge originality--I Should Have Stayed Scared (Ecko)--a disc that raked in just about every year-end award your Daddy B. Nice could throw at it, including Best Male Southern Soul Vocalist of 2008; Best Southern Soul Arranger/Producer of 2008; and honorable mentions in two other prestigious award categories, Best Southern Soul CD Of 2008 and Best Southern Soul Songwriter of 2008.

And if I were writing this review at this time last year, I'd be giving I Should Have Stayed Scared that rarest of all ratings: Five Stars ***** Can't miss. Pure Southern Soul heaven.

More's the pity, because a little more than half a year later, with superior cuts from the Should Have Stayed Scared CD like "Number Two" barely scratching the surface of Southern Soul radio airplay, and with little promotion for the CD (no singles push with chitlin' circuit deejays, no touring to back up any of the airplay), Luther Lackey has arrived with a new CD--Jody's Got My Problems! (Ecko)--that seems both ill-timed and ill-tempered.

Evidently, the financial results of the I Should Have Stayed Scared CD were disappointing. Thus, the impatient young artist, perhaps rendered woozy with self-importance by the praise lavished upon last year's CD, whipped up another collection as fast as possible, with very little thought to anything but "gettin' what's his."

Jody's Got My Problems! starts with a lecture disguised as humor. Luther dons a wig (cover photo) and impersonates his mama (Mama Southern Soul) in order to berate the audience for not buying her son's CD in sufficient numbers.

Track two, the title cut, has all the signs of a song intended for single status, but--like many of the CD's songs--remains disjointed, and doesn't quite come together. On Track three, "Can't Read Your Mind," Luther sounds like Sly on his druggy, distracted downside. Track four, "I Can't Get Back In The House," displays the curious spectacle of Luther appropriating the old Bobby Womack/Rod Stewart riff from "(If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It" and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and quite untypically doing little to nothing with it.

By the time one gets to Track five, "Get Out Of My Bed" (which is reprised later in the CD), one is seriously beginning to wonder if Luther Lackey has lost all bearings and a clear commitment to his artistic identity. On the I Should Have Stayed Scared CD Luther was as close to the bulls-eye of artistic breakthrough (and artistic identity) as Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley. He had a rich, choral sound that softened his vocal and emotional eccentricities. It was a formula which, although controversial and avant-garde, seemed destined to reap ever-growing numbers of fans. On this much more minimalist and melancholic album those tics stand out like a skinny guy's elbows.

(You'll remember that Mr. Zay made the better, and more popular, version of Lackey's classic, "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday," because he was more willing to record a conventional, audience-pleasing version. Luther Lackey's version was much more personal and unconventional, a kind of roller-coaster vocal style that demanded the audience come to him rather than him come to the audience. This struggle between staying true to himself or giving the audience what it wants has become a difficult dynamic for Lackey to solve.)

Track six, "I Thought The Baby Was Mine," (Daddy B. Nice's #8 Southern Soul Single, May 2009), is the most direct reflection of the Should Have Stayed Scared CD, and one hears the first bars with their cantankerous vocal sincerity (a Lackey trademark) with grateful relief. This is, after all, the closest to the Lackey identity forged since "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday."

"Mama At The Drive Through" is a not-funny interlude. Compare these supposedly humorous inserts with a couple of minutes of Bobby Rush talking on record and you'll realize how forced and transparent the humor really is.

It's followed by "Dip And Roll," in which the opening bars promise something great. But Lackey puts the brakes on the tempo just when it's beginning to swing and give the audience that pleasure Lackey perversely wants to withhold, and the track morphs into a strange, morbid musical phrase before it even gets to the chorus pay-off. It's like you've gone onto the club dance floor, stimulated by a danceable riff, only to find yourself in a haunted house.

"Dirty Heffa" (Daddy B. Nice's #7 Southern Soul Single, June 2009), continues the druggy, Slylike style. The verse is intriguing vocally, with Luther vamping a nice-sounding, near-rap monologue, but the song's chorus is once again minimal and curiously unsatisfying. The sound is harsh and ultra-modern, Luther Lackey becoming the Lenny Bruce of Southern Soul.

"Let Me Get In It" harks back to what Lackey's fans admire: great melody, vocal, chorus, and arrangement, but it's a clone of "I Should Have Stayed Scared," which takes away a little of its allure. "Talking On The Telephone" is nothing to remember. "Get Out Of My Bed" (the reprise) reminds your Daddy B. Nice that Luther Lackey has yet to be successful (not unlike a lot of other Southern Soul balladeers, Sir Charles Jones among them) at recording a good fast song. This one is banal. In fact, the best stab Lackey makes at good "fast" may be the verses (not the choruses) of "Dirty Heffa," which have a hypnotic, trancelike effect. It's called mesmerizing the audience (see Latimore, Carl Marshall, etc.)

Finally, and very unfortunately, the CD ends with another lecture on bootlegging. What? (you ask). Oh yes, you will have to listen to this tirade even if you have put down good money for the privilege. And, in case you didn't get the album's message prior to the final two tracks--"(Outro) Mama Southern Soul" and "Please Mr. Bootleg"--Luther delivers a naked threat:

"You're gonna make me stop singing this Southern Soul."

Where does Luther Lackey get off whining about how much money he's making in Southern Soul? Doesn't anyone working within this genre know upfront that we're making pauper's wages or throwing money down a hole? And why does he think it's interesting?

This album is too full of bile and bitterness, with Lackey's usual caustic wit in the service of dark-side forces. Maybe it's simpler to say the songs are not very good. In any case, I think posterity will see Jody's Got My Problems! as the out-takes from the I Should Have Stayed Scared album.

I went back to I Should Have Stayed Scared. The first cut reminded me that the album wasn't perfect and that those "haunted" fast songs didn't appear suddenly with the Jody's Got My Problems! disc.

But beginning with the second track, "Number Two," I Should Have Stayed Scared propels the listener to a sphere of overwhelming beauty: an eccentric balladeer surfing upon one poignant, real-life wave (or tale) after another. That cluster of songs--"Number Two," "I Don't Care Who's Gettin' It," "I Should Have Stayed Scared," "The Blues Is Alright," and "New Orleans Blues"--is as good as it gets. The last four songs on the album fall off a bit, but led by "She's Tired Of Me," they admirably sustain the overall feeling of sumptious soul.

I Should Have Stayed Scared is a gift from God or whatever higher power you believe in, funneled through a receptive artist. Its narrator--Luther Lackey--is in a beautiful spiritual place.

Jody's Got My Problems! is egocentric, an unfortunate, post-classic burp, hopefully just a hiccup after the feast in a long and eventually storied career.

--Daddy B. Nice

**************

6.

April 11, 2010:

LUTHER LACKEY: The Preacher's Wife (Ecko) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

"He's sharp as a whip and volatile," I wrote about Luther Lackey in 2008, the same year Luther won the Daddy B. Nice Award for Best Male Southern Soul Vocalist, and they're still the truest words I can find to characterize this under-appreciated artist.

Besides his one-of-a-kind singing, Lackey's other primary strength is his songwriting. He first appeared on the Southern Soul scene as the composer of the melodic and moving "She Only Wants To See Me On Friday," the song that put Mr. Zay on the map.

The strong writing statement ("I Should Have Stayed Scared," "Number Two," "I Don't Care Who's Gettin' It") in Lackey's 2008 album, I Should Have Stayed Scared, made that CD a finalist for album of the year.

But in 2010, even among chitlin' circuit fans, Luther Lackey is still mostly an unknown quantity. He doesn't tour much, his vocals at this point are still arguably an "acquired taste," and he hasn't scored the really big hit that would make him a "name."

Luther's new CD, The Preacher's Wife, may not have that career-defining hit either, but as a whole it's easily the most rocking, listenable, inventive album to fill my post office box yet this year.

"It Ain't Easy Being The Preacher's Wife" (the title cut), the first radio single, announces from its opening notes that this CD will be a musical experience of the first order. The music is superb, a soulful mixture of rock and r&b and gospel, and the vocal (or vocals--Lackey always does his own background singing) is assured if idiosyncratic.

However, the "magic" single to put Luther Lackey over the top might as well be any number of a half-dozen songs from the generous LP, including the swinging, string-drenched "If She's Cheating On Me, I Don't Wanna Know," a wonder of a melody set to a great rhythm track.

Along with the slow and stately "What It Takes To Get Her Is What It Takes To Keep Her," these songs from the CD all reference, either directly or indirectly, recent Southern Soul hits and preoccupations.

"The Preacher's Wife" echoes Vick Allen's recent "Forbidden Love Affair" (not to mention Lenny Williams and many others). "If She's Cheating On Me I Don't Wanna Know" delves into the same subject as the popular Tre' Williams' & The Revelations' "I Don't Wanna Know." And "What It Takes To Get Her Is What It Takes To Keep Her" is a reworking of Sir Charles Jones' "Same Thing (It Took To Get Her)."

The songs gain a certain resonance from the associations, but they're not derivative in any other sense. Lackey's songs inhabit a world all of their own. You may not like the world, but you'll know it's Luther Lackey and nobody else.

Not only are Lackey's songs marvels of musical composition. The lyrics are unfailingly rich in detail, often witty or humorous, with a storyteller's relish in narrative. The anthemic "Mister Can I Shine Your Shoes"--yet another possible single--begins with the lines:

"You heard me sing back in sixty-five.
Said you'd never heard singing like that in your life.

Gave me five hundred dollars and a bottle of wine,
And said put your name on the dotted line."

The unflinching, grab-you-by-the-collar immediacy in the first two lines--at first it sounds arrogant but then you realize it's just the truth--and the career history captured in the pithy last couplet illustrate Lackey's knack for realism and compression.

There are two or three songs of filler on The Preacher's Wife, but they are more than compensated by an unusually generous palette of rich material.

The atmospheric "Your Change Will Come," with its whiff of saxaphone and Isley-style lead guitar, complete with guitar break, is one of the most affecting of Lackey's ballads.

Another ballad, "The Kind Of Love That Lasts," is as pure and uplifting as the best vintage street-corner doowop.

If Lackey's latest effort has a flaw, it's probably the continued lack of a knock-out fast song. That elusive uptempo track may be just what Luther needs to eventually break through to a wider audience.

This CD's stab at a good fast song is "I Got Caught Butt Naked," which Luther sings as unintelligibly as Mick Jagger ever did in his prime. If you didn't know the name of the title, you would never be able to glean it from listening to the lyrics.

I confess to liking "Butt Naked" better than most of Lackey's attempts at the brash side, but I also confess to wanting to skip over it on occasion (the song is done twice on the CD) to soak in the healing waters of Lackey's mid-tempo and slow-tempo offerings.

Whether "Butt Naked's" repetitive funky hook will catch on will be interesting to monitor. My guess is that in spite of its inspired, brass-spiffy chorus, Luther's breakthrough dance song is still ahead of him.

In the meantime, there is so much else to enjoy in The Preacher's Wife, a carnival of little miracles to make your feet tap and your smile twitch.

Like this one, from "If She's Cheating On Me, I Don't Wanna Know":

"She said she's going on a cruise.
I said it's about time for me and you.
She told me, 'No, no.
It's for me and my friends.
There ain't nobody
Gonna bring no men.'"

But wait--it gets even better.

"And I said, 'Baby,
I'm going to miss you.'

She said, 'Is that right?
I'm going to miss me too.'"

--Daddy B. Nice

Bargain-Priced The Preacher's Wife CD

************

7.

May 1, 2010:

Your Daddy B. Nice calls Luther Lackey's new CD, The Preacher's Wife, the best new album yet this year.

Luther Lackey's new song "If She's Cheatin' On Me, I Don't Wanna Know" was number one on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles for May 2010.

Bargain-Priced The Preacher's Wife CD

***********

8.

April 1, 2011:

Luther Lackey's THE PREACHER'S WIFE was the recipient of numerous awards in Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2010 Awards ("Daddies").

Nominations & Awards include:

Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2010
Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2010
DBN's Top 25 Southern Soul Songs of 2010
DBN's Top 25 Southern Soul Songs of 2010
Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2010
Daddy B. Nice's Best Songwriters 2010
Daddy B. Nice's Best CD's 2010
Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2010: The Year That Was

Go to Lackey, Luther in Daddy B. Nice' Comprehensive Index to automatically link to the exact placement of each award on the BEST OF 2010 page.

DBN

*************

9.

October 9, 2011:

LUTHER LACKEY: Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man (Ecko) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man, the new CD from Luther Lackey, starts slowly, but it gradually becomes evident this collection is not a sprint but a marathon. In effect, it's a double album, its bounteous helping of fifteen songs in the same league, if not quite up to the par of the musicianship, with Bob Dylan's masterpiece, Blonde On Blonde, which, incidentally, is ranked #9 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time."

Luther Lackey is a confounding talent. When "The Village Voice" showcased Southern Soul music (the first time in the mainstream press) earlier this year, Luther Lackey was one of the three artists (along with Mel Waiters and Sweet Angel) profiled.

As a songwriter, both witty and musical, Lackey has few peers in the Southern Soul ranks, and as a singer he has a distinctive, ornery clarity, but as a promoter of his own work (be it touring or nuts-and-bolts PR), not to mention as a judge of his own work, Luther Lackey has never excelled.

And so the work, the marvelous musical catalog, remains raw and often under-developed--and, of course, often limited by the programming. Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man is the work of two studio wizards: Lackey and Ecko Records' John Ward.

More's the shame, if that's what's keeping the bigger audience away, because there is not another Southern Soul performer with the pure, musical, break-out potential--from song conception to song execution--of Luther Lackey, and Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man is proof, if any were needed. The album is awash in wonderful music.

Your Daddy B. Nice has been trying to figure out the key to Lackey's artistic breakthrough for years, offering hints and suggestions while giving the singer consistently high marks for his brilliance.

(See Daddy B. Nice's numerous awards and citations under "Luther Lackey" in the Comprehensive Index.)

And when the single "Rebound Love Affair" (the CD's opening cut) appeared earlier this year, ahead of the album release, I once again mused on Lackey's inability to hit the "home run" song that would bring fans flocking:

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

JUNE 2011

9. "Rebound Affair" -----------Luther Lackey

My theory on Luther Lackey is that he's a little too far-out for even Southern Soul fans. The vocal tics that he values as his signature style are frequently off-putting. His dilemma is discovering which vocal mannerisms work with audiences (and eliminating those that don't) and applying them in a new, streamlined vocal style to one of his always promising compositions.

"Rebound Affair" gives a hint.


Now I don't know if any of that makes much sense. But I do know that what's not mentioned in my snapshot above is how exquisitely Luther Lackey sings and writes when he's on his game, i.e. in "Ain't Scared No More," one of the many, many gems from Lackey's new CD.

The reason I suspect Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man starts slowly, as if shaking off some rust, is because "Rebound Love Affair" doesn't have quite the melody and bridge to completely work.

Nor does the gospel-knockoff, "If We Ain't Gonna Break Up" (the number-two track) or the odd choice for an album title (the number-three track), the one-dimensional "Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man."

The meat of the album begins with the fourth track, "I Ain't Scared No More," the latest in Lackey's series of songs based on his signature hit, "Scared Of Getting Caught." I Ain't Scared No More is as perfect as a song can be. Luther's lead vocal is winning, and the background vocals utilize the poignant gospel choruses that populated the song's predecessors. The crowning touch is a steel-drum accompaniment, a daring touch that fits the composition like a glass slipper fits Cindarella.

"Talking On The Telephone" isn't quite as good, but it's lifted to a high level by a nifty bridge that seals the deal.

"Hopper Grass" is a furiously-done song, with a hot lead guitar part that does in fact recall the fast tracks from Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited." I've never been partial to Lackey's uptempo songs. I believe (as is the case with most Southern Soul artists) that Luther's true calling is in the ballad hemisphere. That said, I don't think Lackey has ever recorded a better scorcher than "Hopper Grass."

One of the best decisions Lackey makes on this CD is the inclusion of some of his best hits from yesteryear, all of which still suffer from lack of exposure and air play. So the appearance of "If She's Cheatin' On Me, I Don't Wanna Know," the excellent song from Lackey's The Preacher's Wife CD, is a big plus.

The addition of "The Blues Is Alright Because Of You," a redo of the soulful "The Blues Is Alright (A Tribute To Litle Milton)" from the I Should Have Stayed Scared album, is yet another wise choice.

And the album's closer, "I Don't Care Who's Gettin' It," is yet another keeper from the I Should Have Stayed Scared album. Give credit to Lackey for including these durable songs from his past. They add immeasurably to the album's luster.

"Caught Between Two" and "Could She Be The One For Me" are interesting mid-tempo songs with much to like. These songs, which qualify somewhere between "filler" and "killer" on Lackey's CD, would be high-profile on most Southern Soul songwriters' albums. "Could She Be The One For Me" is one of two songs on the CD about commitment. Doe Luther have a new woman in his life?

I suspect Lackey may have considered "Hold My Mule" a throwaway or novelty song, but it's an impressive exercise and warranted a number-two ranking on DBN's Top Ten Singles last month as follows:

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

SEPTEMBER 2011

2. "Hold My Mule"---------Luther Lackey

Great foray into folklore and fable. The song's simplicity lends an aura of timelessness.

Sample "Hold My Mule" on Bargain-Priced Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man CD


The slow blues "Big Bosomed Woman" and the frenetic "Get Out Of My Bed" have the feel of B-sides, but when an album is anchored by as many songs that demand to be heard again and again as this CD possesses, even the lesser songs gain cachet.

"Could She Be The Woman Of My Dreams" (the other song about commitment) is no B-side. This song is fully-fleshed out musically and lyrically, with memorable personal details and a heart-breakingly spiritual and tuneful chorus.

Lackey knows how to infuse the catchiest parts of gospel-singing into his R&B, and he's not afraid to incorporate exotic influences. Another storied performer did that in highly-popular songs like "Cupid" and "We're Having A Party," making a huge impression on popular music in the process. His name was Sam Cooke.

Luther Lackey's Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man is without a doubt one of the best Southern Soul CD's of the year.

--Daddy B. Nice

Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man CD

Daddy B. Nice notes: This CD is also available on CD Baby (a first for Ecko Records) at a reduced price. Click the link below.

Bargain-Priced Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man CD

Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Luther Lackey.

**************

10.

February 21, 2012: Daddy B. Nice Honors Luther Lackey as 2011's Best Southern Soul Male Vocalist ("Hold My Mule") and Best Southern Soul Arranger/Producer (Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man CD)

See Daddy B. Nice's Best Of Southern Soul Awards: 2011.


**************




If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train To Georgia," you'll love Luther Lackey's "Scared Of Getting Caught."


Honorary "B" Side

"Scared Of Getting Caught"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy She Only Wants To See Me On Friday by Luther Lackey
She Only Wants To See Me On Friday


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Goodtime

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Scared Of Getting Caught by Luther Lackey
Scared Of Getting Caught


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Goodtime

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Call Your Outside Woman by Luther Lackey
Call Your Outside Woman


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Goodtime

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Could She Be The Woman Of My Dreams? by Luther Lackey
Could She Be The Woman Of My Dreams?


CD: Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Ain't Scared No More by Luther Lackey
I Ain't Scared No More


CD: Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy If She's Cheating On Me I Don't Wanna Know by Luther Lackey
If She's Cheating On Me I Don't Wanna Know


CD: The Preacher's Wife
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Preacher's Wife


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Blind Blind Snake by Luther Lackey
Blind Blind Snake


CD: The Contender
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
The Contender


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Hold My Mule by Luther Lackey
Hold My Mule


CD: Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Married Lyin' Cheatin' Man


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Should Have Stayed Scared by Luther Lackey
I Should Have Stayed Scared


CD: I Should Have Stayed Scared
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
I Should Have Stayed Scared


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Mister Can I Shine Your Shoes by Luther Lackey
Mister Can I Shine Your Shoes


CD: The Preacher's Wife
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Preacher's Wife


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy The Blues Is Alright by Luther Lackey
The Blues Is Alright


CD: I Should Have Stayed Scared
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
I Should Have Stayed Scared


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Two Minute Man by Luther Lackey
Two Minute Man


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Good Time

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Your Change Will Come by Luther Lackey
Your Change Will Come


CD: The Preacher's Wife
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Preacher's Wife


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Can I Tap That by Luther Lackey
Can I Tap That


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Goodtime

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Freak At The House by Luther Lackey
Freak At The House


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Goodtime

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Thought The Baby Was Mine by Luther Lackey
I Thought The Baby Was Mine


CD: Jody's Got My Problems
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Jody's Got My Problems!


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Thang Played With by Luther Lackey
Thang Played With


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Gucci

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy The Preacher's Wife by Luther Lackey
The Preacher's Wife


CD: The Preacher's Wife
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
The Preacher's Wife


2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Dirty Heffa by Luther Lackey
Dirty Heffa


CD: Jody's Got My Problems
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Jody's Got My Problems!


2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm Talking To You by Luther Lackey
I'm Talking To You


CD: I'm Talking To You
Label: Goodtime

Sample or Buy
I'm Talking To You


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