Chris King's noontime oldies show on KPRS 103.3 notwithstanding, you're about as likely to hear "old-school jams" on today's urban contemporary radio as you are to hear DMX cooing a love ballad. That's particularly true of the music's grittiest, blues-based side, which hasn't been a consistent radio presence since Stax closed its doors a quarter-century ago. However, in working-class clubs across the South, as well as those in any northern city where black Southerners migrated in sufficient numbers, the music never went away. For proof, Chitlin Circuit Soul!
provides sixteen funky examples, and while its arbitrary choices are hardly definitive, the disc still offers a fine overview of the genre's sexy, sweaty best, from Little Milton's 1972 Stax single "Walking the Back Streets of Love" to Ronnie Lovejoy's cheater's alibi from just last year, "Still Wasn't Me."
Highlights include the last-chance misery of Bobby Bland's "Members Only," Johnny Taylor's classic "Cheaper to Keep Her" and Millie Jackson's for-the-ages rendition of "If You're Not Back in Love by Monday," all of which argue that soul music is close emotional kin to country. Bobby Rush, Z.Z. Hill and Latimore make appearances as well, but the most indelible moment belongs to Clarence Carter and his love-machine boast "Strokin'." By the end, the eccentric blues man has his woman testifying Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter! Eeeeew shit, Clarence Carter! That's called leaving your woman "sassy-fied," Carter says with a chuckle; it's also called wrecking the house.