O. B. Buchana
Daddy B. Nice's #30 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Let's Get Drunk"
O. B. Buchana
February 1, 2014: NEW ARTIST GUIDE ALERT!
--Daddy B. Nice
About O. B. Buchana
O. B. Buchana is a native of the legendary blues burg, Clarksdale, Mississippi. He arrived on the chitlin' circuit scene in 1999 with the release of the single "Back Up Lover" and the LP It's Over (Paula/Susquehanna, 1999). "Back Up Lover" quickly became a staple of Deep South deejay rotations and earned a permanent niche in the Southern Soul catalog. Chuck Roberson covered the song in 1999.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"Hey bartender, send me a drink
O. B. BUCHANA: It's My Time(Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.O. B. Buchana's new CD, It's My Time, is reassuring. The album gives the fan the feeling that if Southern Soul artists like O. B. keep on doing what they're doing, the recognition (the respect, the fame, the record sales) will grudgingly come.
I've just been watching the latest music movie on cable ("Cadillac Records"), a fictional documentary about Chess Records and, most interestingly, the relationship between Leonard Chess and Muddy Waters. The story of Muddy nails down the phenomenon your Daddy B. Nice calls the R&B "generation" factor: it takes a generation for the mass audience to catch up to the cutting-edge figures in black music.
O.B., Sir Charles et. al. are the pioneers of this generation. They represent the underground of which only a small fraction of the "black" audience--much less the "white"--has a clue. And the hard-working, big-dreaming O. B. Buchana perhaps represents this best. Ten years from now, you know O. B.'s going to be singing Southern Soul in the tradition of storied, long-lived vocalists like Bobby "Blue" Bland. You can't say that with certainty about many others.
And listening to O. B.'s new CD, It's My Time, one is repeatedly struck by the fact that Buchana is one Southern Soul star who has not only found his identity but a unique and identifiable Southern Soul "brand."
Mr. Sam, who duets with O. B. on the rip-roaring "Did You Put Your Foot In It," the CD's first single, alludes to the "brand" when he sings, "When I grow up, / I want to be like you."
And when Ann Hines, who recently partnered with O. B. on a remix of last album's "You're Just Playing With It," sings that "Some of these men / Need to go to O. B. school," you don't ask yourself if she's convincing. You say, "Give me the school's address."
Don't underestimate the courage it takes to be O. B. Buchana. ("Talent is luck. The important thing in life is courage."--Woody Allen in "Manhattan," 1979--who also said, "The biggest part of life is showing up.")
Of the first rank of young Southern Soul stars, O. B. seems the most willing to stand up for hedonistic excess in spite of the hand-wringers (many of them fellow musicians) who condemn Southern Soul stars for their focus on the carnal.
Song after song on this album revels in earthly pleasures. In addition to the Sam Fallie-written "Did You Put Your Foot In It," tunes such as the upbeat "Groove Thang," the rousing "Ooh Wee" and the risque "Slow Lick It" all plow musical fields previously tilled by "bad boys" like Clarence Carter, Marvin Sease and Theodis Ealey.
O.B.'s writers--John Cummings, John Ward, Gerard Rayborn--compose songs in most cases with O. B.'s "brand" in mind, trying at the same time to avoid becoming formulaic. That is always the risk. But the even greater risk (ask any famous painter) is straying too far from the thing that got you there.
What carries even the generic material are Buchana's vocals, unerringly true in emotion and accomplished in technique, even when skipping along merrily over frisky beats. However, the depth and psychological precision of the vocals become even more evident in O. B.'s contemplative slow songs.
This album's "Southern Soul Country Boy" or "I Owe Everybody" is the ballad "It's My Time." In it O.B. and his writers make no bones about where O. B. comes from and where he's going.
"I never gave up my dream.
I just held on.
I waited for this moment
For so long. . .
I've been faithful to this music,
And to this music I've been true.
And to get to where I am today,
There's a lot of things I had to go through.
It's my time.
It's my time.
All my hard work paid off.
It's my time. . .
I never gave up.
Now my name is in the spotlight.
It's my time."
Towards the end of the song, O. B. tells anecdotes about young people coming up to him and telling him they want to be like him, that they've bought all his albums, and so forth. His gratitude and awe in his own artistic power are so tangible they almost bubble up through his trademark county-boy vocal.
Other tracks of note include "One Way Love," a duet with Ms. Jody, which--if it sounds familiar--comes from an old Ms. Jody album, What You Gonna Do When The Rent Is Due, the disc that contained the Southern Soul hit, "Your Dog Is Gonna Kill My Cat."
The Gerard Rayborn-written track "You've Been Good To Me" appropriates the rhythm track of Felix Cavaliere and the Rascals' "Groovin'"--one of the most imitated songs in Southern Soul music. "Groove Thang" was made to start out a musician's set onstage. "Look What You Did To Me" and "Let's Dance" are uptempo, get-out-of-your-chair-and-on-the-dance-floor vehicles for O. B. to display his mastery of good-times beats.
Reservations? Sure. A year ago, in reviewing Southern Soul Country Boy (Ecko), I wrote:
"My favorite O. B. cut is also his most atypical--"Let's Get Drunk"--an early masterpiece recorded at the legendary Suzie Q studios around the turn of the century. In my original artist guide to Buchana, your Daddy B. Nice described it as a "muscle groove." The juxtaposition of Buchana's R&B voice over "Let's Get Drunk's" classic rock-and-roll tightness is a marriage made in heaven, bringing out the often-invisible generosity of Buchana's vocal technique. But most of the songs in Buchana's career have ambled down the path of O. B's other seminal classic, "Back Up Lover," a kind of loosey-goosey, herky-jerky vehicle of which O.B.'s newest radio single "You're Just Playin' With It," is only the latest compelling example."
Now we can add "Did You Put Your Foot In It" to that list of "loosey-goosey" Buchana classics. It has become the O. B. Buchana brand--the incorrigibly country-inflected sound that brought him to the show.
I for one would like to see O. B. get away from his "brand" occasionally and go back to some of the streamlined blues and rock and roll of early standards like "Let's Get Drunk."
What do I mean by "rock and roll"? Maybe just the kind of original songwriting that is hard to find in any era: songs like "I'm A Woman" by Nellie "Tiger" Travis (written by Floyd Hamberlin) or Jeff Floyd's "I Found Love (On A Lonely Highway)" or Sweet Angel's "Good Girls Do Bad Things." It'd be interesting to hear O. B. do a country song like Ms. Jody's "I Never Take A Day Off (From Loving My Baby)" or something that sounded like Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Proud Mary" or "Born On The Bayou." You get the overall picture: slinky beats, powerful rhythm sections, strong fluid melodies.
You put O. B.'s effortlessly acrobatic vocals on top of all that, and you'd really have something. (Like "Let's Get Drunk," actually.) But these reservations are minor.
You've seen the TV commercials? Buy gold? The best investment?
The same can be said for Buchana. I still don't think O. B. has tapped his greatest potential, but I'm pleased to be patient, knowing O. B. has plenty of career ahead in which to get there. It's My Time oozes confidence not only in the artist but in a bright future for Southern Soul music.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced It's My Time CD
Daddy B. Nice's CD Review reprinted from:
January 16, 2011:
O. B. BUCHANA: That Thang Thang (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new."We Don't Get Along 'Til We Gettin' It On,"
the centerpiece of the new album by O. B. Buchana, is the most radio-ready single OB's done since "Let's Drunk" way back in the Suzy Q. days.
His vocal on the single garnered Buchana the "Daddies" Award for Best Southern Soul Male Vocalist of 2011.
Songwriter Gerod Rayburn and writer/producer John Ward take a blues-structured idea and make it swing like a popular song. OB does his barnyard-brilliant thing on lead vocal and he tops it off with a peppy, fifties-smooth background chorus (also OB, in double octaves). The result is a song dripping in controlled charisma.
Other songs of note on the collection include "A Woman Ain't No Fool," a Rick Lawson-written tune. Buchana has leaned on Lawson heavily in the past for such Buchana catalog stalwarts as "Both In The Wrong," "If It Feels Good" and "Just Because He's Good To You."
This song is distinguished not only by the Buchana showcase vocal but a distinctive guitar hook that had me scratching my head trying to remember where it came from.
I finally realized it's the guitar hook from the Southern Soul classic by Ollie Nightingale, "She's In A Midnight Mood In The Middle Of The Day." Which makes sense, because lead guitarist John Ward goes back that far with Nightingale.
Listen to the guitar in particular on the bridge following the first verse. Those descending and ascending runs are one of the classic hooks of Southern Soul music--the secular equivalent of Sunday's preacher quoting a verse from the Bible.
"I Think He Trusts Me Too Much," (See Daddy B. Nice's #4 Southern Soul Single for January 2011) is also special.
What I like best about this song is its fidelity. It doesn't show off or diverge from the classic (Bobby Womack through Sir Charles Jones).
Still, O. B. Buchana's vocal possesses such authority and resonance that his rendition ends up being arguably--and if you're honest I think you'll agree--the definitive version.
"Old School Blues" is a song over-ridden with the kind of cliche's you might dismiss as too familiar to be of much interest, but it's surprisingly satisfying.
In actuality, it's a reworking of the "Wiggle" song by Willie Clayton, which may have been written by the young Terry Kimble--T. K. Soul--if memory serves.
"Wiggle" is one of Clayton's most under-rated classics. The people who know about it love it, and "Old School Blues," with its good-time, old-time lyrics--
"I know everyone's talking
About this Southern Soul.
But that old-school blues
Is where it came from."
--has the same, gradually-mesmerizing charm.
"That Thang Thang," the title cut with its woodblock-sounding, disco/house-style rhythm track, is both generic and energetic. It would have made a perfect opening track, and will make an equally suitable set-starter in front of an audience.
Why--instead--Buchana features Charles Matthews (both as writer and singer) in the opening slot of this CD is perplexing. The song, "It Cost Me More Than I Gained," doesn't have a discernible hook. Matthews may (and probably does) have much more to offer, but I don't hear it here.
On the other hand, "I Want Both Of You," which is modeled on Ms. Jody's "Yo Dog Is Killing My Cat," captures your attention with its lyrics (by John Cummings):
"All of a sudden
I jumped up in the bed
I want both of you.
I want my wife
And my woman, too.
I want to have my cake
And eat it, too."
If "I Want Both Of You" takes off on Southern Soul radio, it's guaranteed to prompt a "response" song from a Southern Soul diva.
"Let Me Be Your Stand In" is one of those too-familiar-at-first, I've-heard-this-before, Buchana songs that ultimately wins you over. Buchana is especially fine on the chorus, and a subtle keyboard line adds just the right touch.
Three other songs--"Let's Dance (Remix)," "Crazy Love Thang," "Act A Fool Lovin'"--fall short from a material-worthy standpoint. Of the three, "Act A Fool Lovin,'" possesses the most redeeming qualities--but nothing like the quality of the finely-spun-as-Mississippi-cotton tracks highlighted above.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced That Thang Thang CD
Comparison-Priced That Thang Thang CD, MP3's
January 9, 2011: Update
O. B. Buchana wins MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: See 4th Annual "Daddies"
See Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles for October 2010: "We Don't Get Along Until We Gettin' It On"
Daddy B. Nice's CD Review reprinted from:
March 10, 2012:
O. B. BUCHANA: Let Me Knock The Dust Off (Ecko) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.There's a saying in the music business that if you're serious about maintaining a hold on the public and its record-buying attention, you must publish CD's with regularity. O. B. Buchana has adhered to this formula annually for the better part of a decade, and his stature in the Southern Soul community has grown accordingly, making him one of the dominant practitioners of the genre.
However, O.B.'s new CD, Let Me Knock The Dust Off (Ecko, 2012), coming on the heels of his fine That Thang Thang CD, is sabotaged by poor songwriting.
In contrast with prior Buchana albums composed by the usual Ecko Records regulars (John Ward, Raymond Moore, John Cummings, Morris Williams) with occasional input from greater-Memphis-area composers such as Sam Fallie, Charles Matthews and Gerod Rayburn, Let Me Knock The Dust Off features six of ten tunes written by Memphis-area musician and hot new recording act Sonny Mack (under his given name, William Norris).
The title track, O.B.'s featured selection (dedicated to women "without anybody in their lives"), contains one particularly witty and memorable line:
"I ain't had no loving
The amusing cover art, with O.B. resting a feather duster on the posterior of a bent-over young lady, is a direct reference to this couplet and the song's title, "shake the dust off." However, if this fine young piece of eye candy hasn't had any loving in the last twenty-four hours, it sure looks like it.
Musically, the song's chorus, augmented by a fiery organ, generates some interest, but the song--arguably the best of the Norris-written selections--is hampered by its similarity to Buchana's own "That Thang Thang" from his last CD, not to mention the tune's overall debt to Tyrone Davis's "Banging On The Headboards."
The borrowing continues with the John Cummings/John Ward-written "Put Your Mouth In The South," which reworks the Big John Cummings-written "I'm Going Back Home" from O.B.'s Going Back Home CD.
"You don't have any
Southern Soul music
On your radio--"
--O.B. sings in the former song, explaining why he can't move up North, despite a lot of other perks.
Cummings' new, graphic lyrics inhabit a different geography, the human anatomy, and in Southern Soul's relentless search for new metaphors for lovemaking, "Put Your Mouth In The South" is surely one of the most bizarre.
If the bass line in "Juke Joint Queen" sounds familiar, it's because songwriter Raymond Moore cannibalizes the melody, bass and tempo from Carl Sims' "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without The Blues," which just happens to be another John Cummings/John Ward-written tune from Sims' 2004 release, It's Just A Party.
In fact, in lieu of any interesting melodies, you can almost make a game out of figuring out who stole what from whom on this CD. There's more "borrowing" than you'll find on a desperate college student's term paper.
The guitar lick from "Tap It" (John Cummings) is still eluding your Daddy B. Nice, although it's most certainly from a Southern Soul song of the last five years. Ah! Just thought of it: it's the riff from Stevie J.'s "Gotta Find A Good Woman."
Not to be a scold--everyone borrows--but if you do, the cardinal rule is to make it better. If it's the same quality or worse than the song it's borrowed from, chances are nobody's ever going to want to hear it again.
That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with this CD. O.B.'s fans have heard it all before, and new listeners will wonder what all the fuss about O. B. Buchana is about.
With the exception of Charles Matthews' "Mind Your Own Business," five William Norris compositions close out this collection: "Hurry," "Throwdown," "Bang That Thang," "Mr. Telephone Man" and "Moon Over Clarksdale," the latter a redo of "Moon Over Memphis" from Sonny Mack's Going For Gold CD, reviewed here in January 2012.
"Bang That Thang" may be the low point. With "Crazy Love Thang," "That Thang Thang" and "Groove Thang"--all largely generic, repetitive, and melody-poor--already in the Buchana catalog, Buchana flirts with losing the good will of his audience.
If O.B. can't find material any better than this, it may be time to put out a "greatest hits" collection--in the process hopefully rediscovering the musical and emotional depth that attracted his audience to him in the first place.
Until then, fans interested in sampling Buchana at his best should go to the CD's I Can't Stop Drinkin', I'm Gonna Sleep and Southern Soul Country Boy.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Let Me Knock The Dust Off CD
Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to O. B. Buchana.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
Honorary "B" Side
"Back Up Lover"
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