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Comeback, continued

Black Bottom
Black Bottom
By Robert Ward

Black Top Records: 1995

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This review first appeared in the December 8, 1995 issue of the North County Times.

From the opening chords, you know it's Robert Ward on guitar – who else runs a Telecaster through a Magnatone amp for that weird, pulsating sound?

While Ward's greatest commercial success may have come 30 years ago playing that same echoing guitar behind Wilson Pickett on the Falcons' "I Found a Love," and he may have come closest to his own fame and fortune as the founder of the Ohio Untouchables / Ohio Players – leaving the band shortly before they changed their name and then hit it big – his best music is coming now, in his second career.

"Black Bottom" is the third release in Ward's comeback, and it continues the unlikely story of his first two. His version of the blues is equal parts Southern gospel and Midwestern shuffle. Even though Ward originally hails from, and has long lived in, the Deep South, his musical roots remain in Ohio and Michigan, where he spent his musically formative years.

Thus, there's more John Lee Hooker to his music than Muddy Waters. His music rocks more than Hooker's, and while much of the blues is obsessed with dark imagery and moods, Ward's songs are upbeat, life-affirming and optimistic, his smile audible in his singing.

If you've not checked out Ward, one of the nice people in music as one of the hippest and most soulful songwriters going, you owe it to yourself to do so.