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Curtis Salgado: Strong Suspicion

I won’t go so far as to declare Curtis Salgado the greatest soul singer on the planet, but I will heartily suggest that he’s a remarkable composite of many of the greats who have preceded him. Listening to the funkified Portland genius (who formerly fronted Roomful of Blues and provided Jim Belushi for the inspiration for his Blues Brothers alter ego) on Strong Suspicion (Shanachie), I hear Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr, Barrett Strong, David Ruffin, the Undisputed Truth’s Joe Harris and, particularly, Sam Cooke. More accurately, I hear Salgado distill their collective magnificence into something uniquely his own as he enervates thirteen tracks that include the Beatles “I’ll Be Back,” Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (and What Is He to You?),” Leon Russell’s “Help Me Through the Day” and a blazing duet with Bonnie Bramlett’s sound-alike daughter Bekka on “Can’t Stop Lovin’.”

Seven of the remaining selections, including the title tune, were written or cowritten by Salgado. Each can hold it’s own against the genre’s best, but the precociously mournful “Money Must Think I’m Dead” stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Originally Published