Roy Roberts is the bridge between Memphis Soul and Contemporary Blues.
He exemplifies this music form, a healthy amalgam of Memphis Soul & Modern Electric Blues replete with real horns and stinging guitar licks. In today's market he's a hero to me being that today's "Southern Soul" is mostly machined-programmed and heavy on double entendre while Contemporary Blues is dominated by Blues/Rock bluster. But Roy is 100% organic Soul Blues. He's released 11 terrific records thus far, including one live, one "Best Of" and a Gospel outing. And this doesn't even take into account his fantastic production and songwriting work on albums by Chick Willis, Floyd Miles, Johnny Rawls & more.
How does he do it? "It's Only You" is another set of fat-bottomed Albert King-at-Stax grooves and melodic-Hi Records-horn-kissed bliss. Whether it's headbobbing, toe-tapping Soul rollers like "Cheerwine" (an homage to the wildly popular soft drink), "Looking Bad Situation" and "It's Only You" to the meaty mid tempo Blues pounders "Got To Watch My Step" and "Singing Another Blues Song" to B.B. King-like shuffles ("Going Out Tonight") Roberts manages to reach everybody. The blues purist, the old school soul devotees and even the Carolina Beach Music crowd (yes, you can "shag" like crazy to this album!). All need a copy of this disc in their collection.
Blues singer, guitarist, song writer, producer and label mogul Roy Roberts was born Oct. 22, 1942 in Livingston, TN. He first learned piano and gospel music with his mother but eventually he bought his first guitar, a Sears Silver Tone, and began playing R & B with a Greensboro Ponderosa club house band. There he had the opportunity to play in the same venue as legends like Clarence Carter, Joe Tex, Eddie Floyd, Dee Clark, Solomon Burke, and Otis Redding. He even was for a time part of Solomon Burke's orchestra and later in Eddie Floyd's group (Some 30 years later Roy produced Eddie's comeback CD "To The Bone", released on Roy's Rock House Records imprint). Perhaps his greatest learning experience came in 1965 when he played guitar for the "Big O" Otis Redding! In honor of the departed legend Roy cut his very first single "The Legend Of Otis Redding" following Redding's tragic death. For a time he was on the road with his band as the Roy Roberts Experience throughout the late 60s and 70s until Disco reared it's ugly head and stalled the careers of many Soul, R & B & blues singers. But that didn't stop this musician because Roy Roberts went Country! (Take that Bee Gees!) He teamed up with C & W artist and friend O.B. McClinton and hit the road. Roy even threatens to cut a Country record soon. After McClinton's death in 1989, Roy concentrated on gospel music. But one day while in the studio he heard a song on the radio that sounded a lot like himself. It was Robert Cray's "Phone Booth" and suffice it to say Roy was soon back to the blues...and the rest was history. That rich history continues with the fantastic album you hold in your hands.
Dylann DeAnna, Blues Critic Media www.BluesCritic.com