The Bo­-Keys, Heartaches by the Number (Omnivore)

Most interesting release: You’d have to call this country/soul, performed in the noble tradition of the great Arthur Alexander, Joe Simon, Candi Staton, Jimmy Hughes and several swamp pop artists. Back in the ’60s there were three centers for the recording of country/soul—Nashville, Memphis and East Texas/South Louisiana. This one was recorded in Memphis, but it has all the dressings of the previously mentioned centers. Basically, producer Scott Bomar combed some classic country jukeboxes to locate material and had the Bo-­Keys—a superior R&B outfit—translate the songs in the studio. The opener/title track, “Heartaches by the Number” has Don Bryant (the author of the classic “I Can’t Stand the Rain”) featured on vocals, and the performance here is the perfect blend of country and soul. The same can be said for the country weeper “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” (Percy Wiggins sings on this and the rest of the material) which strangely works done R&B style. (Swamp popper Tommy McLain did this Hank Williams classic back in the ’60s.) Speaking of swamp pop, the Bo-­Keys do a slightly amped up version of “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” the last true national swamp hit, recorded by Freddy Fender in the mid­’70s. Other country standouts done R&B style include “Don’t Take Her (She’s All I Got),” “Last Date” and “The Longer You Wait,” which includes some tasty steel guitar. The only straight-­up R&B track here is “Learned My Lesson in Love” which sounds like it was lifted from one of Syl Johnson’s Hi LPs. Not a bad track here period. A lot of listeners are going to be more than a trifle impressed with this CD.