Wilson Pickett meets Gamble & Huff, the Philadelphia-based soulwriting and production consortium, and the results are mixed. Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and their musical staff (including Bunny Sigler and Ugene Dozier) wrote, arranged and produced all the tunes on the album. They also did all the studio instrumental work save the horns and strings.
The album’s mighty consistently funky — Pickett and the rhythm section work well together — but the horns and strings aren’t always used effectively or uniquely. A lot of the cuts, although heavy rockers, are sorta standard soul with not much new or different to them. “Run Joey Run” is a poppa’s got a gun song. It’s a steamroller, but a sort of familiar one. Another song, “Come Right Here”, almost gets into a really fine low-key highenergy sax-drum-Pickett interplay, but falls off the edge.
“Bumble Bee (Sting Me)” is buzzin’; “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You” is rollin’; “Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number Nine” is really strong, but again standard; and “International Playboy.” The rest of the cuts strike me as being just pleasant, or not much of anything.
It’d be a good guess that Gamble-Huff and Pickett will be getting into some good soul things together, given a little time. The promise is there, ’cause their bags aren’t far apart, and the staff musicians fit real well with Pickett’s style. If Gamble-Huff can come up with some more flavorful arrangements and more tunes off the beaten path, tailored to Wilson himself, there’ll be some mighty fine funky music coming out of Philadelphia.