Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wayne Toups: Toups (1997)

(As published in Offbeat ... )

Wayne Toups
(New Blues)

The odds against a former zydecajun wunderkind's turning in his best album at the age of thirty-nine are formidable, but Toups not only overcomes them, he demolishes them. Blue-eyed soul this tightly contoured (he really has blue eyes, by the way) hasn't seen the light since Huey Lewis was news. With the exception of a couple of no-great-shakes tunes midway through ("Come On In," "I Need All the Help I Can Get"), great shakes abound. That the re-made Toups favorites "Take My Hand" and "Mine, Mine, Mine" still pack plenty of appeal should come as no surprise, but this time they're produced, like the whole album, by Barry Beckett, so they sound even better than before (with "Mine, Mine, Mine"'s affinities to "Smoke from a Distant Fire" especially pronounced). Then there are the instant-classic fast ones--"Man on a Mission" (courtesy of Al "NRBG" Anderson) and "Somebody to Love" (not the Queen or the Jefferson Airplane one, but hey)--the hooks of which deserve jukebox immortality and which, on the strength of Toups' singing, they just might get. Of course, lovebirds will probably prefer the slow-dance ringers "That's What I Love About My Baby" and "If This Ain't the Real Thing," but that's O.K. Lovebirds are people too.

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