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CD Review: Kenny Smith – One More Day

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One More Day is a compilation by a fellow out of Cincinnati named Kenny Smith. These songs are dated from 1964 – 1975 and it's classic era soul music. I'm not sure the origin of the description, but the re-issue label describes him as "a one man Brill Building," writing, playing, and producing most of it himself.

He's got some stylistic range, but the closest thing to my ear would be Otis Redding. Broadly, I say Mr. Smith was a strong second tier soul artist. If you're a young kid with no record collection, you should definitely get some James Brown, Motown, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Pickett first. He's not going to make you forget Otis Redding or Marvin Gaye, but you could be a little below that and make a hell of a good record. This guy did.

If you love that vintage, funky old school soul, but you've heard "Clean Up Woman", "Skinny Legs and All", and "Get on the Good Foot" a thousand times, you should definitely get up on "Go For Your Self" for something fresh. Brother Smith is getting some "like a fat rat in a cheese factory with no cats around." There are three slightly different versions of this credited to Kenny Smith, Kenny Smith & the Loveliters, and Kenny & the Sole Selection. It's all good, but I might lean toward "Go for Your Bad Self."

"Nightbeat" is almost as good and has some particularly tasty little guitar figures dressing it up. The near-instrumental "Skunkie" started kicking in pretty good after a few listens as well, with the tight wah-wah on the guitar added to the piano and horns and just enough of the Donald Duck vocals to be fun without running the gimmick into the ground.

He gets in a bit of that social consciousness stuff in the opening track, "Lord What's Happened?" The broad lyrical theme reminded me a bit of "What's Going On?" — but funkier and lacking the dated cheesiness of stuff like "who are they to judge us just because our hair is long?" Again, this won't make you forget Marvin Gaye's best song, but I'd take a listen to this over the 1,254th spin of "What's Going On?" or for that matter over a first listen to lesser related album tracks like "Save the Children."

In the tender ballad range, Kenny Smith's not quite up with Otis. But if you've worn out a couple of copies of "Cigarettes and Coffee" and "Try a Little Tenderness," you'd probably really like "Forgiveness" and "Same Old Story."

In a general note, this stuff has enough skill in the details of the arrangement to reward repeated listenings. The album sounded pretty good on the first spin, but sounds a bit better with each listen as little guitar figures and other ornamentations jump out of the mix.

In summary, if you dig that funky old soul like me and Bob Seger do, but you've long since run through the obvious couple of dozen top names, you might consider One More Day at least a minor godsend.

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