Frankie Lee
The Ladies and the Babies
HMG 5501
For Duke-Peacock in 1963, Frankie Lee cut "Full Time Love," which was later covered by no less a light than Stevie Vaughan. Like Vaughan, he's a Texan, though he's lived in California since the mid-'60s.

The soul/blues Lee exemplifies was in a lean period when this album first came out on vinyl in 1984, and it made little stir. You might think it'd be of greater interest now that soul/blues is popular again. Lee certainly sings well enough -- a little like O.V. Wright only smoother, a tad like Johnny Adams only rougher. Trouble is, very little of the material here deserves his voice. The best tune is "Don't Make Me Go Home," a C&W-flavored outing on which Lee's voice is sublime. Horns and back-up singers are appropriately applied. Very fast and lively is "Lu Ann."

Otherwise, downsides abound. "Stoned Cold & Blue" is diminished by chintzy faux horns on a Prophet 6. (Real horns are so much better!) "Nasty Stuff" is much in the irksome ilk of "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner or similar mall-rockers and cheapens the whole set. Lee's an artist worthy of attention from any fan of fine singing, but he's far better showcased on Blind Pig's Goin' Back Home.

-- Tim Schuller

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Boulder, CO, USA.