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Personnel: Robert Cray (vocals, guitar); Albert Collins, Tim Kaihatsu
(guitar); Curtis Salgado (harmonica); David Li (tenor saxophone); Nolan Smith
(trumpet); David Stewart (piano); Allen Batts (organ); Peter Boe, Jim Pugh, Mike
Vannice (keyboards); Richard Cousins, Johnny B. Gayden, Karl Severeid (bass);
David Olson, Kevin Hayes, Tom Murphy, Casey Jones (drums);
Lee Spath (percussion).
The Memphis Horns: Andrew Love (tenor saxophone); Wayne Jackson (trumpet).
The Miami Horns: Edward Manion (tenor saxophone); Mark Pender (trumpet).
Midtown Memphis Rhythm Section: Antoine Salley, O. Wahington, Night Train Clemons, Madison Cooper (percussion).
Producers include: Bruce Bromberg, Dennis Walker, Robert Cray, Bruce Iglauer,
Compilation producers: Robert Cray, Bas Hartong, Mike Kappus.
Includes liner notes by David Nathan.
Digitally remastered by Suha Gur (Universal Music Studios, Edison, New
Throughout the '80s, Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan were heralded as the “new hopes” for the blues. Although Vaughan's fiery blues-based playing made this sobriquet more appropriate, Cray's style took as much from Memphis soul as it did Chicago blues. HEAVY PICKS compiles the cream of Cray's material released between 1980 and 1997.
Combining a fluid guitar sound and a creamy vocal style, Robert Cray wrote music often based on the fragility of relationships between men and women. His high-caliber songwriting not only found Cray being covered by the likes of Albert King (“Phone Booth”) and Eric Clapton (“Bad Influence”), but also landed him in the Top 40 (“Smoking Gun”). Although covers of Willie Dixon (“Too Many Cooks”) and Otis Redding (“Trick or Treat”) bridged the blues and soul divide, Cray's R&B strengths leapt out more in his collaborations with the Memphis Horns. On songs such as “Consequences,” “Forecast (Calls for Pain),” and “I Guess I Showed Her,” Cray's singing not only channels the influence of soul legend O.V. Wright, but his crisp guitar playing also points to Steve Cropper's Stax/Volt legacy.
…a solid survey of Cray's 1980-'97 breakthrough years. – Rating: B+
Entertainment Weekly (12/17/1999)
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