Not quite sure quite how I got here but I am damned glad that I did.  That pretty much sums it up for me.

I got utterly side-swiped by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats from the first time I heard it.  I had read a bit of an interview with Mr Rateliff which bigged up how big and tough and mean he was and how incongruous it all was that he was releasing a soul R&B* record on Stax.  When I saw it in the racks the day it came out, with such a great cover too, I snapped it up. 

Good choice, Joe**. 

Opening cut ‘I Need Never get Old’ is a real belter.  That big band R&B sound kicking in gradually, that beat is utterly irresistible and when the man opens his mouth … it’s just utterly transporting.  Deep down underneath all my wild womanising and low down dirty ways I’m just a big sap and ‘I Need Never Get Old’ just triggers me; it’s so romantic!  Mr Rateliff can certainly sell a feeling and does so effortlessly here, in between all the happy foot stomping.

You have to love the video too. No, you do, I am making it compulsory.

The production by Richard Swift is absolutely top-notch.  He captures the band with a real living, breathing warmth and a real live, effortless sound, a deft touch of reverb in thereabouts too.

You know you really are on to a good thing when you play a new LP, love the first track and then the second track is even better.  Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats does exactly that with ‘Howling At Nothing’.  Trust me on this.  ‘Howling At Nothing’ is a wonderful pendulum  of a song, swinging smooth and low, sounding like sex and hope and goodbyes. 

I love how easy this all is to love, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats is such a great achievably human LP.  There is nothing unattainably virtuosic about this LP, Rateliff pull off the neat trick^ of sounding ‘just’ like the best blue-collar soul bar band you’ve ever dreamed of stumbling across one night.

It’s all good here, I find it really is an album I can just relax into and be happy in.  The rhythms sway and strut, the brass section punctuate all the right bits and Rateliff is a fine singer.  Ghosts of Stax glories past are conjured up, danced with for a while and gently fused into new shapes. 

I would pick out ‘S.O.B’ as a real treat.  Gospel touches, acapella, clapping bits and then suddenly it all lurches towards the bar – repeatedly.  I genuinely can’t help smiling every time I hear it.  That has to be the dictionary definition of good music, surely?

If I have a criticism it is that Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats meanders to a bit of a close for me, the LP slows down as it continues and whilst it does have its’ moments (the tender, minimal ‘I’d Be Waiting’ being a definite album highlight) a couple of tracks are short on real punch.  Mind you, if I was lucky enough to meet Mr Rateliff et.al. I would keep my views to myself; wisely.

Overall though this is a real treat of an album.  Guaranteed to make a good Saturday night soundtrack while you’re makin’ food and drinkin’ love.  Try it.

Clever

941 Down. 

*in the old-fashioned pub band playing ‘Walkin’ The Dog’ sense of the genre, not in the ‘rappers not trying very hard’ meaning.

**which is not a Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats song title, but should be.

^and it is a trick, these guys are excellent pros, one and all.  There are reasons you local band don’t sound like this. 

14 thoughts on “Stax O’ Fun

  1. I’d like you to take down the pic of myself in my night gear. Only my fav auntie gets to see me in this attire. x

  2. Amazing how people diversify, isn’t it? Like, just a few years ago, Nathaniel Rateliff was acting in that series where he had glasses and a scar on his forehead and how he’s making rambunctious music! Good on ‘im I say.

  3. So, this is unexpected. A few folk have asked whether I liked this guy and I’ve been like “no, no, no – not at all” and now you’ve got me thinking I need to revisit this.

    I heard some tunes and thought “revivalist rubbish”, but I’m willing to accept that maybe I was a bit rash. I’m fairly certain someone somewhere compared him to Paolo Nutini and that was it for me.

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