Eli 'Paperboy' Reed & the True Loves - Roll with You (Cover Artwork)

Eli 'Paperboy' Reed & the True Loves

Roll with You (2008)

Q Division

If you know anything about rock and roll, then you know the story of how it was stolen. Exploding out of the multi-faceted blues movement, its incarnation was as a catharsis for impoverished, disenfranchised blacks, just as the blues, gospel, jazz and hip-hop once were. And just like these other genres, whites quickly hijacked it. They took this "race music" and repackaged it, vomiting up their own white singers who tried to recreate that black sound, but just ended up making goddamn fools of themselves. Don't believe me? Look up videos of Pat Boone singing whitewashed versions of Little Richard's signature tunes and tell me that guy doesn't look like an unsalvageable sucker.

We could keep going, but the history of rock and roll is too fascinating and ridiculous to summarize here. Suffice to say that since whites stole rock and roll and were caught red-handed, they owed the originators of R&B a huge debt. That debt has been repaid in full by Eli "Paperboy" Reed & the True Loves' Roll with You.

Reed and his multi-ethnic band pick up right where Otis Redding left off and right where Chuck Berry should have ended up. Not so much interested in reinventing the soulful sound of early R&B, Reed has made a record that sounds right at home next to Sam Cooke recordings and Little Richard records, all soulful shouting and mellifluous horns. In fact, it's suspicious just how natural and antiquated everything sounds. From the exuberant opener ("Stake Your Claim") to sizzling ballads like the title track and "She Walks," nothing sounds forced or faked, especially Reed's gleefully abandoned howling. A lesser band might not be able to pull it off, but the True Loves have got chops like Wall Street's got troubles.

While the slow jams on Roll with You are stellar beyond a doubt, capturing all the melancholy and melody of a lovelorn child of the `60s, it's the rousing, energetic tunes that stand out. "Take My Love with You" is easily the album's apex, a galloping, cheerful sing-along with one of the best intros ever recorded. Reed wails and pleads with his lover like James Brown on a Ben Folds binge while the sax and drums make it physically impossible not to do the mashed potato. Even vengeful fantasies like the ones in "I'm Gonna Getcha Back" sound like solid gold, with Reed singing, "I'm gonna getcha back / Gonna go out on the town / I'm gonna getcha back / With every little girl around / Two can play your cheating game / And now I'm on the attack / 'Cuz you done laid your cards down, baby and now I'm gonna getcha back."

Live, the group is as tight as Reed is charismatic. You should see them as soon as possible, since they can't remain a secret for much longer. Just like the Black Keys, who simply stuck to the basics of the blues and infused them with such soul and melody, Reed and his posse are poised for popularity.