[18 August 2008]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Eddie Floyd is best known today for his 1967 hit “Knock on Wood”. Or perhaps you know him from his legendary stature as a songwriter who wrote songs for some of the biggest stars of soul music’s heyday, penning hits for some of Stax Records’ biggest names.
Eddie Loves You So, his first new album in six years, marks his return to the Stax Records logo. It also has him returning to several of those classic songs. Of the ten original songs included, some were written for fellow Stax artists in the ‘50s and ‘60s, some are from Floyd’s tenure with seminal soul group the Falcons, and a couple are previously unheard.
All the tracks are newly recorded, but they nevertheless evoke the era of their origins. “You’re So Fine” was the breakthrough hit for the Falcons in 1959. It’s been updated a little here—but only to its benefit, it boasting more rock and roll swagger—but still has fabulous piano, fantastic saxophone lines, and plenty of rhythm. “Since You’ve Been Gone”, another Falcons tune, was never recorded until now, and here it’s done in the classic vocal group style with the distinct 1950s instrumentation, as it was probably initially intended.
When Floyd joined Stax, he found most of his success through labelmates recording his songs. “‘Til My Back Ain’t Got No Bone” was first a hit for William Bell, while “I Will Always Have Faith in You” went to #11 for Memphis Queen Carla Thomas. “‘Til My Back Ain’t Got No Bone” opens Eddie Loves You So with its sexy, slightly menacing vibe and Floyd’s smooth vocals. It’s a song, and an arrangement, that transcends genre and could easily be a hit in any decade. “I Will Always Have Faith in You” is similarly timeless, although somehow it doesn’t quite have the impact of Carla Thomas’s version.
“You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me”, co-written with Steve Cropper and originally an R&B hit for Sam & Dave, is probably the track most recognizable as the “Stax sound”. Built around the swing of the rhythm section and the punch of the horn section, with a truly great guitar line (one wonders if this was the original arrangement worked up with Booker T. & the MGs when it was written), this one is the one that really gets things moving.
“I Don’t Want to Be With Nobody But You”, which Dorothy Moore recorded on her 1976 Misty Blue album, is another quintessential Eddie Floyd ballad. His velvety voice and the mournful horns make this version absolutely irresistible, whether you’re making up or just making out.
In addition to songs recorded by other artists, this album also contains “Consider Me”, a classic Stax romantic ballad and an album track that was never a single, but definitely should have been. It’s one of those songs that makes you wonder what they were thinking not releasing it back in the day, because listening to it now, it’s clear it could’ve given Otis Redding a run for his money! There are also two of Eddie Floyd’s newer compositions. “Close to You” is a classic song of sweet, soulful seduction, and “Head to Toe” is a bluesy burner, with a little honky-tonk thrown in.
Eddie Floyd has been writing and recording for more than 50 years, and virtually every Stax artist recorded Floyd’s songs (not to mention hundreds of other artists over the years). Eddie Loves You So is a testament to Eddie Floyd and his many talents, and it gives listeners a chance to hear these classic tracks straight from the man himself.