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Wilson Pickett: It's Harder Now

Ed Kopp By

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Wilson Pickett's first release in over a decade is a hot blast of authentic Southern soul. Pickett sounds downright dangerous as he roars his way through these 11 originals. With rough-hewn guitars, exploding horns, funkified beats and a soulful contingent of backup singers, this one feels like Muscle Shoals circa 1965.

Granted, no song on It's Harder Now is quite as good as "Mustang Sally" or "In The Midnight Hour." But "Stomp," "Soul Survivor" and "Taxi Love" come pretty close, and none of remaining tunes is what you'd call a throwaway. "Stomp" is a seriously funky tune about being seriously angry. It has a groove not unlike Pickett's 1970 hit "Get Me Back On Time, Engine No. 9." "Soul Survivor" is a heartfelt reminiscence about 60's soul music, while "Taxi Love" describes a physical encounter in a taxicab.

Whether it's lovin' the ladies or standing up for his rights, the 58-year-old Wilson Pickett still thinks he's the baddest mother around. After nearly 40 years in the music biz, his testesterone-driven vocals have lost none of their edge. With songs like "What's Under That Dress" and "All About Sex" — both of which he co-wrote — Pickett shows that he won't be needing a Viagra prescription anytime soon.

Credit producers Jon and Sally Tiven for reviving Pickett's classic sound.

Rating *** 1/2 (out of ****)

Tracks: Outskirts of Town; Taxi Love; What's Under That Dress?; Stomp; Soul Survivor; It's Harder Now; It Ain't Easy; Bad People; All About Sex; Better Him Than Me; Stone Crazy World

Players: Wilson Pickett (vocals); Laurence Etkin (trumpet); Paul Griffin (organ); Simon Kirke, Todd Snare (percussion, drums); Muzz Skillings (bass); Jon Tiven (organ guitar); Mitch Weissman, Billie Ray Martin Charlie Feldman (vocals); Sally Tiven (bass)

Title: It's Harder Now | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Bullseye Records


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