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Guitarist/vocalist James Kinds was hailed as a promising young bluesman back in 1977, but since then success that might have promised has eluded him. Indeed, it's not unfair to say that he hasn't even managed to maintain a profile of the likes of Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell, with whom he toured Germany back in the late 1970s, which makes the title of this disc, Love You From The Top, a matter of righting a wrong, especially as it's his first widely distributed title in a career which has never faded away so much as operated at a level which falls beneath the media radar.
Much is made of Kinds' voice in the accompanying booklet, although it could be argued that its slight wavering in places is not only evidence of a diminution in power but also of a man who's lived the blues life. It's effective enough on "Mason Dixon Line Blues," but his guitar playing is equally telling.
There's more than a little soul in his work, so considering Curtis Mayfield as an influence on Kinds' rhythm guitar work doesn't stretch a point. It would, however, be wrong to infer that Kinds shows a similar preoccupation with social issues as Mayfield on "Crack Headed Woman," which is lyrically concerned merely with a woman's contrary behaviora time-honored theme which, on this occasion, hardly receives an original treatment.
"Take A Look At Yourself" takes the pace down a few notches, and in so doing allows Kinds a better chance to show off his vocal prowess. While he does so with interest, his tendency to make too much of some syllables makes the lyrics slightly unintelligible. This is, however, compensated by the band's instrumental prowess, which ensures that its slinky groove is nailed. The boogie of "Body Slam" finds Kinds and his pals right at home. Vocally Kinds turns in one of his best performances of the program, and the band gets lowdown without striving for effect.
Saxophonist Eddie Shaw brings his wealth of playing to experience to the table on "Johnny Mae," and, while his contribution is minimal, it has the effect of nicely counteracting Kinds' emotive delivery. In the course of his solo, Shaw lays on the grease, and thus enlivens proceedings which, while they might lose some of their immediacy on record, can easily be imagined to work like a dream in a clubwhich is, of course, where this entire program would come into its own.
Track Listing: Love You From The Top; If You Need It; I Got A Woman; Mason Dixon Line Blues; Crack Headed Woman; Oo Wee Baby; Peggy Sue; Take A Look At Yourself; Katie; Body Slam; I Didn't Go Home; Johnny Mae; I Can't Take It; My Mama Told Me; High Heel Shoes.
Personnel: James Kinds: vocals, guitar; Anthony Dotson: bass; Claude L. Thomas: drums; Al Pool: guitar (1, 4, 8, 10, 11, 13) Eddie Shaw tenor sax (1, 5, 9, 12).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.