Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Eli "Paperboy" Reed...

...genuine blue-eyed soul phenom or just a slightly more credible version of that Taylor Hicks idiot from American Idol?

YOU make the call!

Well, okay -- actually I will.

Seriously, I've been meaning to write about Reed for a while now, and not solely because because the good folks at MOJO have been singing his praises for what seems like forever. Actually, what I'd heard from Reed's two indie albums had been impressive, which is to say the guy had all the right vocal influences -- Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown, to name the ones that spring most immediately to mind -- and was apparently a hell of a bandleader and frontman.

On the other hand, the fact that Brits were hyping him made me nervous -- it seemed a little bit like somebody's rather too obviously calculated attempt to come up with a male version of Amy Winehouse, i.e., an easily marketable retro soul/r&b/blues star. Although in Reed's case, one without the encumbrance of a) being nuts and b) having a spouse in prison.

Anyway, I figured that Come & Get It, his just released major label [Capitol] debut, would tell the tale, i.e. would they slick him up to make him palatable to the masses or just let Reed be Reed? Well, I've been listening to it for a couple of days now, and so far it sounds pretty damned authentic; as you can perhaps glean from the title track above, the obvious analog is a better produced version of the first two Southside Johnny/Asbury Jukes albums, although I don't think the material is quite at that transplendent level. Yet.

So yes, I think the guy's very definitely the Real Deal, and you should check out the album posthaste.

I should add, of course, that I'm going to see Reed and company at a club show in NYC later this month; I'll get back to you if it makes me change my mind.