Howard Tate's Reaction

by: Howard Tate

Even after Get It While You Can, his fine 1967 LP for Verve, failed to capture a commercial audience or a substantial fan base, Howard Tate continued to work the nightclub circuit to large audiences. One of his biggest fans was fellow R&B veteran Lloyd Price, who owned a New York club named Turntables where Tate often appeared. The club was actually an adjunct of Price's Turntable record label, which formed in 1968 and signed Tate as one of its first artists. Howard Tate's Reaction was the result, produced by Price and Johnny Nash, and featuring a similar lineup to Get It While You Can -- augmented by members of Price's band plus drum legend Pretty Purdie. Singing a batch of songs largely from the pen of Price, Tate and the band pursue a smoother vision of uptown soul, tempering the grittier Southern soul of Get It While You Can but still allowing plenty of room for Tate's unhinged vocals. The choice of material, though, may have reined in the mighty testifier; Tate remade Price's "Come into My Heart" and Nash's "Hold Me Tight" (both were big hits for their respective performers, Nash's just one year before Tate's version and with a nearly identical arrangement). "My Soul's Got a Hole in It" earned Tate some action on the R&B chart, but it's a generic performance; far better is the uptempo go-go "Have You Ever Had the Blues," with the band spurring Tate on with every chorus. Reissued by Koch after the soul singer's early-2000s resurrection, Howard Tate's Reaction isn't a revelation like Get It While You Can, though it does display a performer who deserved much more attention than he received during the late '60s. ~ John Bush

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