El genio de Alabama representa mejor que nadie la conexión blanca entre el soul y el rock and roll de Memphis, esa integración racial y musical que sólo aportó oro en el estudio.
Si ya era legendario como compositor y arquitecto del sonido de Muscle Shoals y por firmar la mejor cheating song de todos los tiempos, la grandiosa The Dark End Of The Street (para James Carr), en la década de los setenta, cuando se acababa de desmontar todo el chiringuito de la música del alma sureña y todo pintaba tan oscuro como en la portada, editó esta absoluta obra maestra titulada Nobody´s Fool.
|Penn y Chilton ¿ahora a qué vino le damos?
Dan Penn is one of my favorite artists of all time, an obsession, his name has become synonymous with “get the Soul”. He is, neither more nor less, the father of blue eyed soul.
The genius from Alabama represents better than anyone else the white connection between Memphis´ soul music and rock and roll, a sort of racial and musical integration that brought to us nothing but pure gold from recording studios.
He was already a legendary composer/sound architect at Muscle Shoals Studios, having written the best “cheating song” of all time (the great The Dark End Of The Street for James Carr), when back in the seventies the whole thing about the southern soul just winded up and everything looking as dark as on the front cover, Dan came out and released this major masterpiece entitled «Nobody’s Fool».
A crepuscular recording like few others, that describes the Nixon´s era and everything which rushed upon the American dream. That sadness in which the whole Union fell after Vietnam War´s havoc and successive endings of 45´s, hit´s factories, the Age of Aquarius, peace and love…
If Big Star records are the secondary road that made rock´n´roll landscapes from the seventies looks prettiest, it would be necessary to put together this divine trilogy with Penn´s gem. It should be emphasised that behind youngsters Alex Chilton and his Box Tops (easily the American Stevie Winwood and his Spencer Davis Group) was our Master from Alabama, the man who took their first steps to stardom with firm hand and hit singles as “The letter”, “Soul deep” or “Cry like a baby”.
The thing is, all the Alabama´s soul music genius encouraged him to release his own songs when they listened to those incredible demos where he showed his impressive voice, so similar to Ray Charles.
But unchangingly he yielded all his pearls to the stars of the black firmament of southern soul.
His solid roots in the fifties´ classic rock and roll as well as in country and gospel music or Sam Cooke, are what gift this album-island that touch of crossroads, unique and inimitable.
So it does not seem at all strange that Elvis Costello includes it among his “desert island records to take with” or the fact that the original vinyl edition from Bell Records has become a collector’s item nowadays – how I whis have it in my collection while my prized cd edition is set on the shelf!
The old Dan in «Nobody’s Fool» generated an unbeatable balance between two of the three musical passions of the mythical city of Tennessee: soul and rock and roll. The blues, that would be the third, underlies any of the other two because it is the mother of all of them.
With “Nobody´s fool” he released an everlasting classic, taking the casual and youthful air from Box Tops hit´s scores to full maturity splendor after his experience as a tailor of Aretha, Carr, Sledge and other Atlantic Records luminaries, from the very start with those Church organ notes that make the hair stand on end.
In the end, like Fogerty with Little Richard and Otis Redding, Dan Penn synthesized Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich and Ray Charles, in the abscence of the pomp and pageantry of the time, creating blue eyed soul. Thanks to him we can now enjoy groups like Danny & The Champions Of The World, because Dan will always have a faithful parish of followers.
As if that were not good enough, he adds into the cooking pot a fair dose of pop and Burt-Bacharism, as we heard in the song “Raining in Memphis”, that makes the difference and help to understand why Nick Lowe has wanted to be like Dan Penn through many albums. He also visits the “outlaw country” in “Tearjoint” and the immense house brand ballad “Time” that delivers a wind of dirty drizzle like in the front cover. Sincere and impressive renditions, the band sounds so good.
What´s wrong with the world to make an artist with such a soulful voice so unknown? Well…
His gospel-shaped cover of CCR´s Lodi is pure southern sacrament while “Ain’t No Love”, so close to the laid-back sound of J J Cale, gives pure emotion… that´s how good it is.
In the final section, another Charlie Rich style ballad called “I Hate You”, simply heartbreaking, followed by fireworks in “Prayer For Peace”, much more sophisticated, intricate verse and so deep. The song “If Love Was Money” takes us to Terry Callier especially through the verse, as well to Paul Weller too (a classic of northern soul for that moment to hug your girl after dancing)
Finally, “Skin” closes in a somewhat gothic-southern way, with a spelling on southern liberalism rocked by an endless strings section.
“Nobody´s fool” isn´t easy as a whole because somewhat of a claustrophobic air, as in “Berlin” album by Lou Reed but in Dixie terms (just imagine Memphis had a wall), so you should give yourself time to be soaked in because it is like the gentle rain that we can intuit in its superb cover picture.
Once you have your clothes soaked, then it will continue till wet your bones, and there will be no way to get rid of its revitalizing rain coating, man.
Traducción Félix De Tena ( thanks buddy)
Publicado en rockandrodri land dentro de la serie discos crepusculares pero actualizado para el Exile.
Dan Penn – Nobody´s Fool (1973)
1. Nobody’s Fool 2. Raining In Memphis
3. Tearjoint 4. Time 5. Lodi
6. Ain’t No Love 7. I Hate You
8. Prayer For Peace 9. If Love Was Money
- Robert Forster – The Candle And The Flame (2023): pureza y sinceridad en manos de un maestro de la canción - 20 de marzo de 2023
- John Cale – Paris 1919: Uno de los discos más bellos de los setenta cumple 50 años - 25 de febrero de 2023
- Wilco en el Kursaal de San Sebastián, 20/06/2022: el mágico positivo de Cline - 29 de junio de 2022