Sounding like the middle ground between Bobby "Blue" Bland and Otis Redding, Z.Z. Hill had only just begun to make an impression on the charts after a few singles for Kent and United Artists when his contract was sold and he found himself recording for Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, a prospect he didn't especially appreciate. Under duress, in a mere three days, Hill cut the vocal tracks for an LP and a handful of singles, and that album, The Brand New Z.Z. Hill, proved to be one of the most ambitious projects of his career. A song cycle about Hill's romantic dilemmas with two different women, Brand New featured dialogue interludes along with ten songs, several of which were written by Williams with Gary Bonds (who was leaving the "U.S." out of his name at the time). Williams brought together a fine crew of Muscle Shoals session players who give these sessions an updated Stax Records feel that suits Hill's gritty but heartfelt vocal style beautifully. When it gets down to serving up some rough-and-ready Southern soul, this album delivers the goods.

ZZ Hill, "The Brand New"

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