Rhythm and Blues

D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)

D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)

With D’Angelo’s pertinent message, color-blurring harmonics and a total lack of slickness, ‘Black Messiah’ is a worthy successor to ‘Voodoo.’

Smokey Robinson still thrilled by George Harrison’s long-ago tribute: ‘A wonderful, flattering thing’

Smokey Robinson still thrilled by George Harrison’s long-ago tribute: ‘A wonderful, flattering thing’

George Harrison’s “Pure Smokey,” a 1976 tribute to Smokey Robinson, gave credit to an artist who had been part of the Beatles’ musical foundation.

Bill Withers built a Hall of Fame career by challenging convention

Bill Withers built a Hall of Fame career by challenging convention

Highly personal songs addressing both personal and political issues propelled Bill Withers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Steve Cropper on the 5 Royales’ lasting impact: ‘Deserved more credit than they ever got’

Steve Cropper on the 5 Royales’ lasting impact: ‘Deserved more credit than they ever got’

Steve Cropper has long advocated for the 5 Royales, newly announced recipients of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Early Influence Award.

Michael McDonald – This Christmas (2010): On Second Thought

Michael McDonald – This Christmas (2010): On Second Thought

Michael McDonald can come off as a guilty pleasure, principally because his voice was so often caught in a web of too-slick production. Not here.

Otis Redding tried something new with ‘Dock of the Bay,’ even if someone else got credit

Otis Redding tried something new with ‘Dock of the Bay,’ even if someone else got credit

Steve Cropper talks about a memorable moment of improvisation by Otis Redding, and debunks a myth that’s surrounded it ever since.

Steve Cropper explores the mysteries of his ageless guitar style: ‘It was all accidental’

Steve Cropper explores the mysteries of his ageless guitar style: ‘It was all accidental’

Steve Cropper has become one of the most respected of sessions men, a guitarist of economy, grit and grace. But how?

Denny Laine and the Moody Blues, “Go Now” (1965): One Track Mind

Denny Laine and the Moody Blues, “Go Now” (1965): One Track Mind

An artifact of a lost time, the Moody Blues’ newly reissued “Go Now” is a lasting testament to the legend that Denny Laine somehow never became.

Butcher Brown – All Purpose Music (2014)

Butcher Brown – All Purpose Music (2014)

With ‘All Purpose Music,’ the Virginia-based soul-funk-jazz quartet Butcher Brown shows why Nicholas Payton is so fired up about this band.

Allen Toussaint, “Lady Madonna” from The Art of McCartney (2014): One Track Mind

Allen Toussaint, “Lady Madonna” from The Art of McCartney (2014): One Track Mind

Allen Toussaint explores a Paul McCartney connection from long before their time together around the newly reissued ‘Venus and Mars.’