As part of their 50th anniversary celebration, Stax Records has re-issued several albums from its remarkable catalog in digital-only formats. Eddie Floyd's 1969 album, You've Got To Have Eddie, (downloadable from iTunes) is among the first batch of releases.
Floyd is best known as the gritty belter who recorded the oldies radio staples "Raise Your Hand" and "Knock On Wood." But he also is responsible for one of the great lost soul gems of Stax, "Big Bird," as well as co-writing Wilson Pickett's classics "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)" and "634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)."
Those expecting retreads of Floyd's hits will be disappointed at first. There is little of the sweaty, greasy soul that was his trademark. Of the twelve songs on You've Got To Have Eddie, only " I Sowed Love (And Reaped A Heartache)" and "Non-Stop To Midnight" relive the sound of his earlier hits.
But that doesn't necessarily make You've Got To Have Eddie a disappointment. Floyd's voice adapts well to the smoother material, allowing him to display his versatility as a singer. You can also hear how Stax, was opening up their sound to incorporate other sounds in R&B.
The opener, "That's All," sets the tone with a typical Stax groove, complete with horns, but with strings added into the mix. "Can I Change My Mind," has some breezy funk led by a vintage Steve Cropper guitar line. Neither of them would have sounded out of place on the albums Jerry Butler was making with Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff at the time.
There are three covers on the album. The first two, Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" are perfectly fine, but they don't build upon the originals. The third is Bobby Darin's "Long Line Rider," which gives a deep soul treatment to a chilling tale of a murderous prison warden to great effect.
With the exception of the Caribbean-tinged hit single "Don't Tell Your Mama," the other songs on You've Got To Have Eddie are solid, if unremarkable, slices of pop-soul. As with everything on Stax, the musicianship is exceptional. This is a good one to have in your soul collection.