Daddy B. Nice's #99 ranked Southern Soul Artist
November 19, 2010: NEW ALBUM ALERT
--Daddy B. Nice
About Jody Sticker
Jody Sticker (Gerry Roberts) was born in Montgomery, Alabama. His debut disc, 5 Minutes, was released by Mardi Gras Records in 2005. The album boasted first-rate production and arrangements distinguished by outstanding keyboard and horn riffs. The vocals were understated and muted, lending an air of street-wise authenticity to the songs.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"Let me kiss you real quick.
JODY STICKER: Mr. Booty Do Right (CDS) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.Jody Sticker has until now been a pretty marginal Southern Soul performer, hovering in the "nosebleed" seats of Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Artists even as others (Willie B., Frederick Brinson) have fallen out. The reason for that tenacious hold on the slippery edge of the chart has fallen chiefly on one Jody Sticker song, the slow but hooky "Five Minutes," a low-key, chitlin' circuit-savvy, domestic tale about getting a "quickie" before the company arrives. The man wants to do it, the woman doesn't--but she relents. "Come on and get it if you think you can get it," she says at the end, with as much snarling skepticism as sexual heat. The song is humorous and self-effacing.
But while 5 Minutes the CD had a second potential (but never realized) Southern Soul single, "Hickory Log," there wasn't anything to match the firepower--or predict the wealth of material--on Mr. Booty Do Right.
With strong assistance from Sir Charles Jones (about which more later), cameos by Mel Waiters and Kenne' Wayne, and #1 and #2-ranked Daddy B. Nice Top 10 Southern Soul Singles ("Roll That Thang," "Booty Do Right"), the new album represents a substantial step forward for Jody Sticker.
Jody Sticker may be the worst singer since Bob Dylan. Don't get me wrong--your Daddy B. Nice is a huge Bob Dylan fan. But if you have any doubt that Jody Sticker is one of the sorriest soul singers ever, you'll know what I'm talking about the minute Mel Waiters chimes in on a verse of "I'm Movin' In." Mel Waiters can sing.
But like Dylan, the singing doesn't matter much if the songs work, and in Jody Sticker's case--deadpan, straight-faced, melancholic and at times morbid takes on the world--the songs almost always do.
Melancholic? Morbid? It seems unreasonable when you consider that Jody's very persona--"jody stick-er"--and the bulk of his songs are about sex, normally an upbeat activity. And yet, when Sticker uncharacteristically laughs a time or two on "Booty Do Right," it's a "techno" laugh. It doesn't seem to come from real life--it seems out of place coming from a performer who eschews anything bubbly and optimistic.
With his ultra-slow tempos and his languorous melodies, Jody Sticker is actually closer to being the Leonard Cohen of Southern Soul.
The ultimate goal in Sticker's songs, like Cohen's, is an intensity of atmosphere, a natural mystery and awe in the seemingly commonplace, if you can only calm down and stay quiet enough to absorb it. The prize for the artist is in the overall presentation of the material, not in the vocal.
With its subtle hook and sophisticated arrangement, "Booty Do Right" (the CD's title cut) is a prime example. It's the first song since the death of Senator Jones to resurrect the sound of Sir Charles Jones and The Love Doctor and the gold-standard material they put out on the Mardi Gras and Hep'Me labels at the turn of the century, in the pre-motorcycle-crash days when a residue of revenge still put bite into everything Sir Charles did.
"Booty Do Right's" distinctive synthesizer fills--straight out of the Sir Charles vocabulary on Jones' own "Tell Me How You Want It" and The Love Doctor's "You Got To Roll It Slow" and "Moaning and Groaning"--represent a huge chunk of creative territory reclaimed from what was beginning to look like Southern Soul oblivion.
The Sir Charles influence doesn't end there. If you listen closely to "Mama's Love," you'll hear the bass line to "Slow Roll It," the Love Doctor classic that remains arguably Sir Charles' finest piece of songwriting. Sir Charles also shares vocals with Jody Sticker on "Roll That Thang," a super-evocative sexual plaint, and "Sacrifice For Love," which sounds like a direct out-take from a Sir Charles album.
Sticker's vocals, fragile but convincing, are carried along by strong bass lines, drums and sumptous string and keyboard washes. Backup singer Keva Dixon sounds like vintage La'Keisha Burks, and even the backgrounds, especially on the marvelous "Booty Do Right," recall the gospel-tinged arrangements from the heyday of Senator Jones.
"I Can't Show My Hand" is most reminiscent of "5 Minutes," with a plodding but beguiling beat and a dialogue with seemingly the same woman Jody talks to on "5 Minutes."
"Roll That Thang," with its Leonard Cohen-like chord progressions and its insistence on a solemn, processional time signature, is destined for great things, if Southern Soul deejays aren't put off by the crawling tempo. Sir Charles sings "Make it go round and round" in the background while the keyboards swirl in languid circles.
"Kitty Missing, Kitty Loose," "Sugar Daddy, Love Daddy," and "Sex Release" all start slowly (literally and figuratively) but grow in stature with each new listening. As always, the arrangements lend a sheen to the songs that very few Southern Soul artists have been able to capture.
"Party Starter" may be the ultimate proof of how contradictory Jody Sticker's recording persona is. No one would ever pick this guy to start a party. He's too downbeat, he's too reticent, he doesn't even seem to relish the spotlight. And yet there is no denying "Party Starter," like all the songs on the album, is supremely seductive.
Jody Sticker is kind of an ultimate Southern Soul insider, trafficking in themes and subject matter that may go over the head of anyone not schooled by years of listening to the rhythm and blues of the Deep South. He remains an enigma in many respects, but an enigma who now owns a showcase collection of songs that any Southern Soul star would be proud to have under his belt.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Mr. Booty Do Right CD
Daddy B. Nice Artist Guide to Jody Sticker
February 1, 2010: Update
Whew! When it comes to Jody Sticker, there's a lot to report. This once, one-time-hit, more-or-less anonymous Southern Soul artist has gained respect and newfound popularity with his
Mr. Booty Do Right album on high-profile CDS Records. The surprisingly elaborate and atmospheric CD was reviewed on Daddy B. Nice's CD Reviews in 2009 and is also posted below. (Scroll down to Tidbits #3.)
Three of the songs from the album charted on Daddy B. Nice's "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles during the year: Booty Do Right, Party Starter, and Roll That Thang.
And Jody picked up one of the most coveted awards of the year, nailing down a spot in Daddy B. Nice's Top 25 Southern Soul Singles of 2009 with "Booty Do Right." That honor is posted here in its entirety:
22. Mr. Booty Do Right ---------------Jody Sticker
As much as I like it, I've never been able to figure out the song--the structure of the thing--the thing that makes it work. It reminds me of turn-of-century Mardi Gras and Hep'Me Records--vintage nostalgia--and that's Sir Charles on background vocals.
It also has Sir Charles in the studio, his wizardry with the strings and special synthesizer effects recalling early Hep'Me. As with Sir Charles' work with L. J. Echols, the contrast of the arrangement with the vocal by Jody Sticker is dizzyingly contrapuntal.
Speaking of the vocal. . . In a CD review of the album earlier this year, I called Jody Sticker "one of the sorriest soul singers ever," which may have ruffled a few feathers. But that was in the context of calling Bob Dylan--one of my very favorite artists--one of the worst singers ever. I was trying to make the point that you do not go to these artists for their vocals.
Now if you're talking about a specific album, like the super-soulful Blonde On Blonde, I'd have to say Dylan (a Jimmy Reed disciple) was absolutely great, even with his limited--or shall we say, odd--vocal equipment. The same goes for Jody Sticker on "Mr. Booty Do Right." He's absolutely right-on and terrific: the track could not be sung any better.
In summation, this is one of the oddest songs by one of the oddest singers in Southern Soul music, but I have a sneaky feeling its shape may become more discernible as time goes on and that the future may consider "Mr. Booty Do Right" one of the very best songs of 2009.
Bargain-Priced Mr. Booty Do Right CD, MP3's
. . . . Listening to the entire album again recently for the first time since the review, I'm happy to report that it's aged well. The "distinguished effort" I gave the CD sounds more than justified and in retrospect the nickname of "the Leonard Cohen of Southern Soul" is still apt.
There may be even more singles here. I'm liking "Sugar Daddy Love Daddy," which I'm going to rename "Sugar Daddy Man," because that's the way it sounds in the song, and thus makes more sense as a title. Close readers may see where I'm going with this line of thought. Watch for the tune on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Singles for February.
Booty Do Right's a quirky vision all right--on first impression offbeat to downbeat--and perhaps not for everyone, but what did you expect from the author of "Five Minutes"? The vision is also like being in a good mood on a rainy day: it's laced with beauty.
--Daddy B. Nice
November 20, 2010:
JODY STICKER: Make It Move (CDS) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not Much Here.
"Make It Move," the title cut from Jody Sticker's latest CD, was intended to be the first single from Sticker's new disc, but it has languished far from where the top hits do battle.
The reason isn't hard to discern. The center of the song (where the lead vocal should captivate the listener) is a vacuum. Jody Sticker's inadequacies as a vocalist--thin, weak, "down" to the point of being morbid--sabotage it.
This tattered and taciturn approach to making music worked on "5 Minutes," the novelty song that made Jody Sticker's name. In that song Sticker talked, wisely concealing his inability to carry a tune as a conventional singer.
The humor of the domestic situation described in the tune ("Can we get a quickie in before the company arrives?") also lent itself to the desultory attitude of the husband who insisted "five minutes" would be enough to get the job done.
Not so on a conventional song requiring straight-ahead, aggressive charisma such as "Make It Move."
"You Make My House A Home," which coasts on the subtle, slow-jam background keyboard riff you heard on the Mr. Booty Do Right album, is another example. What does it say about your vocal when the background atmosphere stands out more?
The artist Bigg Robb, vocally-challenged himself, understood this from the beginning. He brought in talent to fill the musical areas in which he didn't excel, and--not surprisingly--he's had success.
Songwriters like Andre' Lee and El' Willie have tried to become full-fledged performers with varying degrees of success.
For instance, El' Willie (who wrote Theodis Ealey's "Stand Up In It") puts out increasingly private LP's filled with under-developed songs that are really not much more than demos. Willie has a great voice, but he seems to lack the will or the skill to choose one great song and finish it in a convincing, audience-attracting manner.
Andre' Lee writes very good songs and, thanks particularly to his most popular single ever--"One Night Stand"--is making a bid in 2010 to become a genuine performer. He's singing live in various chitlin' circuit venues, but he still faces an uphill climb due to his one-dimensionally smooth style.
But most songwriter/producer talents of Gerry Roberts' (aka Jody Sticker's) quality eschew the spotlight, and for good reason. In R&B great singers abound. They're a dime a dozen. If you can't really sing, you don't have a chance of standing out.
"Cheating Game" exposes the other flaw in the "Jody Sticker" package. The music is unfailingly depressing. Even on a potentially sunny song like "(It's) The Little Things (That Count)," you feel like you're in the shade of a mortuary tent with a stiff, cold wind blowing.
"I Know How To Treat My Lady" features the same, funereal tempo and the same, fragile, throaty vocal, and just when you're wishing all you ever heard from Jody Sticker was "5 Minutes," he provides a "5 Minute"-like song ("Give That Money Up") with a more novelty-leaning, talking style.
"Brother Buck Naked"--a great title--has the makings of a pretty decent tune, but Jody Sticker doesn't take it far enough. He needs more firepower. "Placetaker" and "Blues Southern Soul Haunted House" simply seal the fate for this CD. Let the tombstone fall, R.I.P.
Sticker's "Booty Do Right" CD held promise that Jody Sticker was going to "break out" as a bona fide, popular, chitlin'-circuit artist.
With songs like "Booty Do Right," "Party Starter" (a duet with a female backup singer), and the high-profile pairing with Sir Charles Jones on "Roll That Thang," Roberts indicated he was intent on taking his music to the next level, and that he might even be able to do it in spite of his "low ceiling" as a vocalist.
Make It Move squanders the good will built up by Mr. Booty Do Right and then some, and no song embodies that loss as much as "Step On My Own Heart."
Here is a song whose raw material is first-rate. You even hear the song re-playing in your mind long after hearing it. The catch is you don't want to hear it. The rendering by Jody Sticker presents the same whiney vocal, the same syrupey-slow background, as the rest of the CD. You can't get to the real passion at the center of the song, if there is any. It's more like a teenager's basement tape of his or her first crush.
On the evidence of this CD, Gerry Roberts aka Jody Sticker is better suited to being a writer/arranger/producer. It is an honorable and profitable profession--being in constant demand--and one that includes such singing-challenged legends as Senator Jones, Frederick Knight, Harrison Calloway, and George Jackson, not to mention young guns such as Bruce Billups, Jonothan Burton and Eric Perkins.
Think of what Gerry Roberts/Jody Sticker--or for that matter, El' Willie or Andre' Lee--could do for Reggie P., for instance, teaming a great writer/producer with a great singer who, like most singers, lacks good material and arranging/producing skills. What great strides might not be taken? What great songs might not be created?
Is the Jody Sticker thing (which is really just a watered-down imitation of only one aspect of Sir Charles Jones's catalog, the slow-motion "weeper") really the best and most fulfilling career path?
Young "geniuses" like Jody Sticker would do well to take a step back and look at the big picture. How can they really influence the sound of Southern Soul? How can they really find the part they were meant to play?
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Make It Move CD
Comparison-Priced Make It Move CD
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you loved Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time," you'll love Jody Sticker's "Five Minutes."
Honorary "B" Side
"Mr. Booty Do Right"
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