Better to Have It

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Michael Berick
The early to mid-2000s witnessed the recording return of such soul giants as Solomon Burke and Al Green. While Bobby Purify doesn't rank up with these legends, his return is a welcome one too. Purify aka Ben Moore was not the first Bobby Purify -- as in James & Bobby Purify, the R&B duo who scored the '60s soul-pop smash "I'm Your Puppet." He only became "Bobby Purify" in the early '70s and sang on a latter-day British hit version of "Puppet." Moore/Purify went on to have a successful career in the gospel field, including a Grammy nomination for his 1982 He Believes in Me. After going blind in 1998, he quit performing. Better to Have It stands as a triumphant ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Michael Berick
The early to mid-2000s witnessed the recording return of such soul giants as Solomon Burke and Al Green. While Bobby Purify doesn't rank up with these legends, his return is a welcome one too. Purify aka Ben Moore was not the first Bobby Purify -- as in James & Bobby Purify, the R&B duo who scored the '60s soul-pop smash "I'm Your Puppet." He only became "Bobby Purify" in the early '70s and sang on a latter-day British hit version of "Puppet." Moore/Purify went on to have a successful career in the gospel field, including a Grammy nomination for his 1982 He Believes in Me. After going blind in 1998, he quit performing. Better to Have It stands as a triumphant return to music. He wisely teams up with "Puppet" co-writer Dan Penn, who serves the album's producer and co-writes 12 of the disc's 13 songs. Penn surrounds Purify with the cream of Muscle Shoals musicians bassist David Hood, guitarist Jimmie Johnson, and Penn's longtime collaborator Spooner Oldham on keyboards as well as Memphis Horns trumpeter Wayne Jackson and post-Booker T.-era MG keyboardist Carson Whitsett. Together they create a classic soul sound for Purify. While nothing here eclipses "Puppet," there definitely is much to enjoy. On songs like the glorious title track, the Motown-flavored "Things Happen," and the easygoing "You Make Me Dig," Purify and company serve up quintessential Southern soul with arrangements grooved to a laid-back blend of horns, keyboards, and guitar. Purify's robust, sixty-year-old-plus voice possesses both a smoothness and a grittiness, suggesting both the church and the street. It's a joy to listen when it all comes together, as in the marvelous R&B ballad "Testimony of a Fool." Occasionally, the album does go overboard. For example, the spoken intro to "I'm Qualified" feels a little old-fashioned and the disc closer, "Only in America," is well meaning but overly earnest. However, even the slightly silly story-song "The Pond" gets redeemed by Purify's commanding presence. Be it the '60s or the 2000s, Better to Have It stands as a quality example of Southern soul for any era.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/19/2005
  • Label: Proper Records Us
  • UPC: 852007001005
  • Catalog Number: 70010
  • Sales rank: 130,357

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Bobby Purify Primary Artist
James & Bobby Purify Indexed Contributor
Dan Penn Background Vocals
David Angell Violin
David Davidson Violin
David Hood Bass
Wayne Jackson Trumpet
Anthony LaMarchina Cello
Spooner Oldham Keyboards
Charles Rose Trombone
Harvey Thompson Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Carson Whitsett Keyboards
Kris Wilkinson Viola
Reggie Young Guitar
Bryan Owings Drums
Bucky Lindsey Background Vocals
Shirley Settles Background Vocals
Mike Durham Acoustic Guitar
Jimmie Johnson Rhythm Guitar
Calvin Settles Background Vocals
Odessa Settles Background Vocals
Todd Suttles Background Vocals
Lisa Best Background Vocals
Sara Settles Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Dan Penn Composer, Producer, Engineer, String Arrangements
Jim DeMain Mastering
Charles Rose Horn Arrangements
Jerry Wexler Liner Notes
Carson Whitsett Composer, String Arrangements
Kris Wilkinson Orchestration
Ben Moore Composer
Chris Musto Graphic Design
Ron Laury Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Tilte says it all

    Legendary Atlantic Records man Jerry Wexler's comparison of Bobby Purify to Otis Redding may be stretching it a bit. Redding was a flat out star, which is something that separated him from 99% of other artists. Purify is just a great singer, which also separates him from others, especially those wrongly labeled as Soul artists these days. This album also can't be compared with Southern Soul albums of the '60s, even though it features players who supported such heavyweights as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Redding himself. The difference is not in the musicians' playing. See, this isn't a 25-year-old Otis running in place screaming, "Gotta, gotta, gotta". This is an elder statesman. Blind, broke, and without an ounce of bitterness. So this isn't as exciting as, say a Stax recording, but that's not a bad thing. Because not only has the Soul artist, his producers, songwriters, and musicians aged, so has the market for this type of music. This album succeeds with a great and relaxed feel and songs that are interesting and memorable. Producer Dan Penn's typically entertaining and thoughtful lyrics and Carson Whitsett's unique and delightful melodies are a perfect template for Purify's warm and assuring voice. Whitsett's trademark soulful and ever so tasteful B-3 organ adds to the atmosphere, as does his beautiful string arrangements. The album has enough variations in style to keep it interesting, but without losing any focus. There's the Whitsett funk of "Somebody's Gotta Do It" (which features a guest spot by Spooner Oldham playing a "Mustang Sally" like organ and Muscle Shoals vet Jimmie Johnson's classic rhythmic guitar chops), the great down home tale of "The Pond" (featuring somehow simultaneously beautiful and funky work from Whitsett on piano), and potential cross over Pop classics like "Forever Changed", a song that Penn, Whitsett, and Hoy Lindsey wrote with Solomon Burke (who scored big with their "Don't Give Up On Me") in mind. Add to all this the contributions of greats Reggie Young on guitar (Pickett, Elvis Presley, Travis Tritt) and trumpeter Wayne Jackson (Otis, Al Green), and 30 second downloads just won't do. It's truly Better to Have It.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Magnificent return of a soul legend

    The history of "Bobby Purify" is surprisingly complicated. The original singer to use this name was half of the duo James & Bobby Purify. Confusingly, the two were not brothers, but cousins, and Bobby Purify was actually named Robert Lee Dickey. The duo waxed several soul hits, including Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's 1966 Muscle Shoals' classic, "I'm Your Puppet." A half-decade later, Bobby split the duo, and after a short time as a solo artist, James adopted a new "Bobby Purify," in the voice and person of Ben Moore. It's this latter Bobby Purify who's returned to the studio to wax this CD. ¶ Moore had a career under his own name before teaming up as a Purify, and recorded as both Bobby Purify and Ben Moore over the subsequent years. As a Purify he re-recorded the duo's signature hit and re-charted in the U.K. Under his given name he recorded several albums, including a Grammy™ nominated gospel disc. He toured into the late '90s, retired for a few years after going blind in 1998, and only recently returned to active duty. That complicated path has now brought him back to his native '60s soul sound, backed by a who's who of R&B legends, including Penn (who co-wrote a dozen new songs for the album), Oldham, David Hood and Jimmie Johnson. The result is a stunningly authentic '60s soul album, recorded in Nashville in the 21st century! ¶ Moore's voice shows light signs of aging, but his soulfulness is unaffected, and the production, arrangements (particularly the laid-back punctuations of the horn section) and analog recordings create the sort of warmth that's completely missing from today's R&B. Penn's songs are often outstanding, with the emotional social ballad "Nobody's Home" providing the album's centerpiece. With such perfect backing on purpose-written material, it's clear that Moore is a singer who deserves to be mentioned with the likes of Solomon Burke and Tyrone Davis, and that his continuing vitality marks him as a whole lot more than a legacy-styled oldies act. 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.

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