Barrence Whitfield and the Savages
MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St, Cincinnati, OH
Free, 21+, 10pm
Barrence Whitfield is a full-throttle soul screamer in the spirit of Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, and Solomon Burke. He has been described as the owner of one incredible pair of lungs, with limitless energy and unmatched enthusiasm for his music and his audience. Barrence is a rarity in this business–one of a few black, rock ‘n roll singer/entertainers who Spin Magazine says maintains a frenzied performance. The Savages lay down a groovy racket that’s so thick and greasy, you’ll need to keep moist towelettes near the hi-fi. Barrence and the boys are to soul what the Cramps are to Rockabilly–a gateway musical drug to America’s demented roots underbelly. Whitfield is a performer so consumed with satisfying his audiences that he has been called ‘crazed, frenetic and completely unhinged.’
With the raw vocals, thick and nasty guitar tones, and preternaturally locked-in rhythm section, Under the Savage Sky might be the most soulful punk record—or perhaps the most punk soul record— you’ve ever heard. Compact, three minute-or-less blasts rocket back to the explosive heydays of The Dirtbombs and genre godfathers The Sonics. Don’t believe it? Just check out “Incarceration Casserole” (with its wild, Little Richard-era sax), the muscularity of “The Claw” (after all, every album of quality should start a dance craze), and “Katy Didn’t.” “Rock and Roll Baby,” “Bad News Perfume,” and “I’m A Good Man” play like a high school sock hop invaded by a biker gang. It’s the kind of hip-shake proto-rockabilly that once had parents dragging their kids to the confessional for listening to that devil music. “Adjunct Street,” a haunting, grinding ballad, gets you absinthe-drunk on Greenberg’s warbly guitar and Barrence’s deep growl, and “Full Moon in the Daylight Sky” brings the brooding, ‘60s 3 a.m. soul.
Under The Savage Sky rains soul and brimstone from the heavens. Keep your eyes to the sky… ain’t no umbrella gonna help you here.