Listen Up: Wednesday, August 17, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Bobby Purify

Better to Have It (Proper Records)

By Tom Geddie

Aside from the good music, Bobby Purify’s Better to Have It is an important c.d. because it will help young people, if they hear it and care, understand the gospel-based roots of today’s soul and R&B music.

Purify’s real name is Ben Moore. He got to be “Bobby Purify” by filling the shoes of the other half of the James and Bobby Purify duo of the 1960s and ‘70s. Though he’s been going by Bobby Purify for more than 30 years, Moore, as Moore, earned a Grammy nomination for the 1982 gospel c.d. He Believes in Me. He retired in 1998 when he lost his sight. But then, after a series of phone conversations with Ray Charles, he slowly began to sing again — first in church, then on a PBS soul music retrospective with Aretha Franklin, Jerry Butler, Lou Rawls, and others. Bobby Purify returned.

Purify’s smooth, meticulous vocals and the tight arrangements on this out-of-retirement c.d. satisfy from beginning to end, whether on the title song’s slow, soulful plea for a woman to stay with her man, or the fear of emptiness in “Nobody’s Home,” or the upbeat-sounding, “frog-eat-frog” morality tale of “The Pond,” or the reverent sorrow in “Testimony of a Fool.”

Dan Penn, a legendary singer-songwriter best known for having co-written the classics “Do Right Woman” and “Dark End of the Street,” produced the disc with an assortment of musicians, including three members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and one of the original Memphis Horns players, plus various studio wizards on strings, keyboards, percussion, guitars, bass, and backing vocals. Though filled with all-new songs, Better to Have It sounds like a satisfying, cool blast from the past.


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