Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Cate Brothers - The Cate Brothers (1975 us, smart funky silky rock, 2009 edition)

The Cate Brothers' formal 1975 debut album opens with "Time for Us," an ebullient soul workout that is also (along with "Standin' on a Mountaintop" and "Always Waiting" -  among the more stripped-down pieces on the record: it shows off Ernie Cate's lead singing and Earl Cate's harmonies (supported with some exquisitely restrained help from Julia Tillman, Brooks Hunnicut, and Maxine Willard - , as well as the latter's clean, crisp lead playing in so genial and upbeat an introduction that it seems like the rest of the album might be hard-put to match it. But amazingly, the rest of the record does equal that opening and then some, alternately bursting out with some amazingly funky white soul and haunting balladry in equal measures. 

The duo's songbag was full to overflowing here, and with Steve Cropper producing and a coterie of players that included old friend Levon Helm and Beatles alumnus Klaus Voorman, the album pretty well soars from beginning to end. There's not a weak point on the record, but the highlights are three songs that the Cates previously cut for Huey P. Meaux: "Can't Change My Heart" (which charted briefly as a single in 1976 - , "Always Waiting," and "When Love Comes," the latter benefitting from a gorgeous Earl Cate guitar solo on the break.

The rest of the record isn't far behind, and the harmonies on "Easy Way Out" are almost worth the price of admission; and the augmentation by Terry Cagle plus Hunnicut, Willard, and Tillman puts the latter track and "Lady Luck" over the top in the vocal department. [The CD reissue is a special treat -- sad to say, the master tapes on the Cates' library were never exactly overused, but the plus side is that they translate nicely to digital on Wounded Bird's 2009 reissue. But however one hears it, this record is still great listening 30-plus years later.] 
by Bruce Eder
1. Time For Us -  3:50
2. Union Man (Earl Cate, Ernie Cate, Steve Cropper) -  4:47
3. Standin’ On A Mountain Top -  4:15
4. Always Waiting -  3:12
5. When Love Comes -  3:54
6. I Just Wanna Sing -  4:46
7. Can’t Change My Heart -  2:48
8. Easy Way Out -  3:53
9. Lady Luck -  3:52
10.Livin' On Dreams - 3:43
All songs by Earl Cate, Ernie Cate except where stated

*Earl Cate - Guitar, Vocal Harmony
*Ernie Cate - Clavinet, Elka, Organ, Piano , Vocals
*Steve Cropper - Guitar, Vocal
*Michael Baird - Drums
*Terry Cagle - Drums, Vocal
*Gary Coleman - Percussion
*Scott Edwards - Bass
*King Errisson - Percussion
*David Foster - Keyboards
*Bob Glaub - Bass
*Ed Greene - Drums
*Levon Helm - Drums, Vocal
*Brooks Hunnicutt - Vocal
*Carl Marsh - Synthesizer
*Nigel Olsson - Drums
*Julia Tillman Waters - Vocal
*Lee Sklar - Bass
*William Smith - Keyboards
*Klaus Voormann - Bass
*Maxine Willard-Waters - Vocal