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T. Graham Brown

Lives! – 2001 (Relentless Nashville)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by T. Graham Brown

T. Graham Brown is one of the finest purveyors of blue eyed soul in the modern age. Indeed, the Georgia native's touring band, Rack Of Spam, was initially a rock'n'soul outfit, and his mid-'80's/early '90's string of Capitol hits created a minor breakthrough by emphasizing the inherent similarities of country and soul.

Despite a surprise comeback with 1998's "Wine Into Water" for Intersound, most of Brown's catalog remains out of print, which is why he recorded this live collection. Frisky and evocative, the 46-year-old Taco Bell pitchman belts out inspired versions of his best-known songs ("I Tell It Like It Used To Be," "Hell And High Water," "Darlene") and straight soul covers ("Memphis Women & Chicken," "Dock Of The Bay"). Brown growls a little deeper these days, but he's smooth as ever on the romantic ballads ("Come As You Were," "I Wish I Could Hurt That Way Again") and pleadings for deliverance from personal weakness ("Wine Into Water," "Keep Me From Blowing Away").

Not all of Brown's top country hits are included, but this 14-song set provides ample proof that this artist can still deliver the goods with gusto.