Thursday, January 19, 2006

RIP Wilson Pickett

Reposted from The A.V. Club Blog

It's hard to think of anything knocking Wilson Pickett down. I'd heard reports that he was ill for a while, but nothing could stop the Wilson Picket I knew from records like "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)" and "In The Midnight Hour." If one trait characterized his music it was energy. Just about any Pickett single can leave you exhausted, and he had a lot of singles and a lot of hits. The curious can hit the highlights out of the deadening context of oldies radio on this this two-disc set.

I've spent the afternoon grabbing random CDs from my inbox and giving them a listen. A lot of what gets shipped to me is, frankly, terrible, be it derivative, radio-targeted hard rock, dull electronica, or whatever. Some of it comes from an absence of ability or inspiration, but if there's one thing that kills music of any genre, it's a lack of passion. In his classic period from the mid-'60s to the early-'70s, Pickett never sounded like he wasn't singing for his life, even on a track like "Land Of 1000 Dances," which could have been a throwaway novelty in lesser hands. A lot of it was god-given talent. But god only gives so much. Pickett understood how hard you had to work to send a soul through speakers.

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