Daddy B. Nice's #54 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"I'll Still Love You"
Composed by Ricky White
July 18, 2016:
RICKY WHITE: Combination 3: Various Artists (CDS) Three Stars *** Solid. The artists' fans will enjoy.
The arrival of two new Ricky White-produced albums from CDS, Donnie Ray's TWO WAY LOVE AFFAIR and Ricky White’s COMBINATION 3: VARIOUS ARTISTS, follows a relative hiatus of a couple of years for the label and a short-lived affiliation with producer Jonathan Burton after the departure in 2011-12 for reasons of health of Carl Marshall.
CDS CEO Dylann DeAnna, who started out with grand intentions of utilizing all live instruments (in the manner of Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records in its heyday) soon fell victim to the financial realities. As the years have passed, he's also shown less relish to risk money on marginally-marketable recordings, which--to his credit--he often did in the early years, publishing an unknown Stephanie Pickett, a forgotten Cicero Blake and Stan Mosley, not to mention many artists (Captain Jack Watson, Jody Sticker, Mister Zay, Bobbye Johnson RIP) whose CDS recordings represented their last shots to date.
Headlining both Donnie Ray's new set--the first designated single, released a month ago--and kicking off the third in Ricky White's popular COMBINATION series, is "Pop It, Baby (or "Pop That Thang") It's brassy, it's slick, it's pumped-up on musical steroids, and it may be the biggest miscalculation of Donnie Ray's career.
Listen to Donnie Ray singing "Pop It, Baby" on YouTube.
Any vestiges of the "middle ground," the subtly-swinging, rocking-the-cradle sound of Donnie Ray's southern soul oeuvre throughout his Ecko years (including the classics "A Letter To My Baby" and "Who's Rockin' You?"), are blown away by the crater left by Ricky White's nuclear-bomb, throw-in-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production of "Pop That Thing."
Why am I left unfazed by this, when a Bigg Robb "techno" track never fails to get me moving, and simultaneously still sounds like authentic southern soul? There's something empty or missing at the core of "Pop It Baby," in a way that it's not missing from a similarly dance-'till-you're-senseless tune like Lil' Jimmie's "She Was Twerkin'." Lil' Jimmie sounds authentic. You can visualize the woman he's singing about twerking. "Pop It Baby" is music about music, twice removed from reality. You don't experience reality. You don't see the gal.
Which brings us to Ricky White's COMBINATION 3: VARIOUS ARTISTS. Say what you will about White, he attracts the talent. T. K. Soul, Vick Allen (both far more sophisticated producers than he, but here they are), Nathaniel Kimble, Vickie Baker (remember her?), in addition to Ghetto Cowboy, Stevie J., Jerry L. (whose "Ooh Wee" with White arranging was a hit) and newcomers Candi Man and Henry Rhoades.
Many of the songs on this eclectic collection come from high-profile stints on chitlin' circuit streaming platforms and the Stations of the Deep South. "Redbone," featuring T.K. Soul doodling with a vocal enhancer while White's mingling vocal rises to a falsetto on the choruses, appeared in 2015.
Ghetto Cowboy's "Main Squeeze" had a modest run on southern soul radio as a "response" song to Big Pokey Bear's wildly popular (and much more authentically-arranged) "My Sidepiece," and "Hit It Again" by Stevie J. made some radio ripples earlier this year.
Vick Allen appears in a Ricky White arrangement for the first time in "Sunshine Lady," and the irony of composer/arrangers as sophisticated as T.K. Soul and Vick Allen submitting themselves to arrangements less sophisticated than they themselves would demand for their own solo albums is not lost on your Daddy B. Nice. "Sunshine Lady" comes off pretty well, but it's closer to a (White-produced) Jerry L. track than anything on Allen's own, far-superior SOUL MUSIC.
Jerry L., by the way, delivers a spectacular vocal on "Let's Chill".
The ascendant Adrena, who just released a break-through CD with all live instruments (see Daddy B. Nice's 5-star review on this page), appears in a Ricky White vehicle, "Good Thang," which in spite of the domestic lyrics sounds like a mellower version of Donnie Ray's "Pop It, Baby" (discussed above). Same song structure, same timing, same arranging motifs, i.e. programmed horns. It doesn't hold a candle to her work on the BETTER DAYS CD.
On the other hand, one of the high points of COMBINATION 3 is White's own "Baby, You're Ready," an impressively-sung ballad with a strong and original arrangement. I think I made it all the way through the song without hearing one single repetitive horn program. All the musical effects are novel--that is, unexpected, as they should be--and the whole song benefits. New sounds, convincing emotion. Suddenly Ricky White is singing with the authenticity of old. Originality is such a big part of being authentic.
Hidden in all this set's talent is the salacious "Come Sit On My Face," lyrically the equivalent of going to the movies and finding your boyfriend's penis in the popcorn bag. But it's Nathaniel Kimble, and its adds a ribald and gritty touch to an otherwise mild-mannered album.
Finally, it's nice to hear Vickie Baker--a true contemporary southern soul pioneer who hasn't lost her touch--whose relaxed vocal takes the edge off White's typically distracting arrangement. And Henry Rhoades delivers an out-of-left-field, funk-tinged number, "Do Me," that inspires an interesting (again, because different and unexpected) White arrangement, in stark contrast to "Let Me Love You," in which White pretty much ruins Candi Man's debut with that horn program he bafflingly loves so much.
Ultimately, COMBINATION 3 succeeds on variety. The far-ranging styles of the artists offset the occasional sameness of the arrangements, as has been the case in COMBINATIONS past. But Ricky White can't continue the try the patience of fans by recycling the same old programmed arrangements indefinitely. Basically, if a fan's not surprised and finally seduced by an arrangement, the song is not and never will be a hit.
The arrogance of producers like Ricky White is that they think the fans are already seduced by their arranging tics and toys. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ricky White could clean out his entire "bag" of arranging tools and be a better producer tomorrow. It's not his talent I question. It's his due diligence.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Ricky White’s COMBINATION 3: VARIOUS ARTISTS CD at Soul Blues Music.
Sample/Buy Ricky White’s COMBINATION 3: VARIOUS ARTISTS CD at iTunes.
May 30, 2016:
NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Ricky White's Combination 3 (Various Artists) CD at iTunes.
Sample/Buy Ricky White's new Combination 3 (Various Artists) CD at Amazon.
Artists featured on the collection
Pop It Baby
by Donnie Ray
Baby You're Ready
by Ricky White
by Ricky White & Nathaniel Kimble
by Vick Allen & Ricky White
My Main Squeeze
by Ghetto Cowboy
Listen to Ghetto Cowboy singing "My Main Squeeze" on YouTube.
Hit It Again
by Stevie J.
Sit on My Face
by Nathaniel Kimble
Listen to Nathaniel Kimble singing "Come Sit On My Face" on YouTube.
by Jerry L.
by Ricky White
Listen to Ricky White singing "Real Woman" on YouTube.
by Henry Rhoades
Let Me Love You
by Candi Man
Sneaking & Cheating
by Vickie Baker
by Ricky White & T.K. Soul
Listen to Ricky White and T.K. Soul singing "Redbone" on YouTube.
Daddy B. Nice notes: Ricky White productions all, heavy on the synths and auto-tune for a slick, well-produced sound far from the old-school simplicity of the singer's original hit, "I'll Still Love You" (below).
For the latest updates on Ricky White, scroll down to the "Tidbits" section. To automatically link to Ricky White's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "White, Ricky" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile
Ricky White's "I'll Still Love You," an old-fashioned love song, is as memorable as any number of great love anthems.
Listen to Ricky White singing "I Still Love You" on YouTube while you read.
In some of his media material Ricky White refers to "I'll Still Love You" as the "wedding song." The description isn't far-fetched. One can readily imagine the ballad accompanying the walk down the aisle.
"I'm so blessed
To have someone like you.
Your love so true.
I never thought
I'd have a woman
Like you in my life.
I thank God every day
For a woman like you."
The lyrics have the ardor of nuptial vows. White has a distinctive tenor, and he presents the verses with a simple, unschooled sincerity reminiscent of Stan Mosley's superb slow jam, "Rock Me."
The arrangement features programmed horn charts over a tinkling, xylophone-like keyboard line. Synthetic strings wash over each verse like mild waves lapping a moonlit beach.
White slips between one and two-part harmonies through the body of the lines, giving the words a lush, comforting sound, switching back to a single voice or a fillip of singing voice-over for emphasis here and there.
Ricky White has a unique vocal timbre, an unvarnished, guy-next-door quality similar to Theodis Ealey and--at this point in time--maybe even a little stronger. As direct as the best country-western music, many of his phrases finish with a swirling, whiplash-sharp upturn that locks them into the memory banks of his listeners.
At this point in his career (the initial stage), White's unvarnished talent dominates his still-developing technique, lending not only "I'll Still Love You" but "Independent Woman" and "Come Back Home"--his three best slow jams--an across-the-board energy and power that over-the-hill artists relying on technique can't come close to matching.
On fast jams like his "Pop It, Then Drop It," "So Good To Me" and Pop That Thing," the listener hears the same bountiful excess of enthusiastic talent straining at the margins of each phrase. "Pop It, Then Drop It," is White's finest fast tune, utilizing a percussion track straight out of 80's disco house music and a creative brass accompaniment.
White's stage performances have already gained a reputation on the chitlin' circuit for razzle and dazzle, including unerring recreations of Michael Jackson's dance moves.
Listen to Ricky White, and watch his vaunted onstage dancing, while performing "So Good To Me" in a Lousiana roadhouse Live on YouTube.
Ricky's approach to material is still uneven and often derivative, by no means an uncommon trait of developing stars. For example, "Come Back Home," his duet with red-hot and iron-tough soul singer Betty Padgett, borrows its musical hook from Johnnie Taylor's "Running Out Of Lies," and the mid-tempo "Candy Man" steals its melody from Frank Lucas's "Good Thing Man."
On these lesser songs White's style comes off as a little too facile and formulaic. But on Sir Charles Jones-like ballads such as "I'll Still Love You" (from the Fully Loaded CD) and "Independent Woman" (from the out-of-print Mr. Juke Joint CD), White succeeds in burying his off-the-charts vocal dexterity into songs of admirable depth and authority, creating Southern Soul music that will endure.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Ricky White
Ricky White was born September 4, 1963 and raised in Greenville, Mississippi. As a teen in the 70's he performed onstage with the White Family Band, a family aggregration that played local venues in the Delta towns in and around Greenville.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"If we live for
May 12, 2015: Daddy B. Nice reviews Ricky White's COMBINATION 2 SAMPLER: Re-posted from Daddy B. Nice's CD Reviews
VARIOUS ARTISTS: RICKY WHITE PRESENTS COMBINATION 2: Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.(11/14/14) Ricky White's second sampler for CDS Records is more eclectic and musical than his first--Combination--and one of the most popular collections of the year. T.K. Soul's "Looking For A Lady" is the jewel in the necklace, but Nathaniel Kimble's "Bad Mama Jama," The Love Doctor's "Pop That Coochie" and Stephanie Pickett's "What Man Won't Do" sustain the momentum. Gwen White's "Ladies Got To Get That Money," with inbred references to Miz. B's "My Name Is $$$'s," is a delight, as is William Calhoun's enthusiastic run-up of the old "meeting-at-the-motel" subject, "Room 229" (DBN's #4 Single, June '14). And happily, there is very little drop-off to the second tier of artists like Betty Padgett, Tonya Youngblood, Henry Rhodes and Jerry L. Ricky White's only contribution this time around is a take-off on J. Blackfoot's "Just One Lifetime" ("Live My Life Again"). A special bonus is the first national release of the underground classic by Larry Milton, "Knockin' The Boots," a mutation of the old Sir Charles Jones/Love Doctor classic, "Slow Roll It." The only flaw in COMBINATION 2 is the low-budget, keyboard synthesizer fills on the Ricky White-produced tracks (most of them). The "tinny" sound was tolerable in early 00's southern soul music, when everything was new and hanging by a string financially, but not any more, and not with quite this frequency. Substituting a trio of background singers would add immeasurably to COMBINATION 3. DBN.
Sample/Buy the tracks from RICKY WHITE PRESENTS COMBINATION 2 at iTunes.
Sample/Buy the tracks from RICKY WHITE PRESENTS COMBINATION 2 at Amazon.
Listen to Gwen White singing "Ladies Got To Get That Money" on YouTube.
September 15, 2015:
Daddy B. Nice On Ricky White's Latest"LOVE ZONE bolts out of the gates as the deepest, compositionally-rich collection of ballads in Ricky White's career."
See New CD Reviews.
September 7, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Ricky White's new LOVE ZONE CD at Blues Critic.
Listen to Ricky White featuring T.K. Soul singing "Redbone" (from the CD Love Zone) on YouTube.
February 7, 2016: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's NEW CD REVIEWS
September 12, 2015:
RICKY WHITE: Love Zone (CDS/Music Access) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.Ricky White has made big strides since his first southern soul album, MR. JUKE JOINT, in 2006. The Greenville, Mississippi native has become one of the most prolific singer/songwriter/producers in the genre. Borrowing a little from Lenny Williams, a little from T.K. Soul and a little from Floyd Taylor and Robert "The Duke" Tillman (not to mention a lot from the master himself, the late Michael Jackson), White has fashioned a romantic yet sexy musical style, a unique and identifiable brand instantly recognizable to lovers of chitlin' circuit R&B.
Love Zone, the refreshing new installment in the Ricky White saga, contains all the incidentals-—the little squeals and “oohs” and “ahhs” and "hey babes," the brassy but tinny, synthesizer arrangements, the old-school and gospel inflections--that define the Ricky White sound. The songs tend toward the contemplative, with ballads predominating, and at their best moments they weave perfect background music for lovers and loving.
"Freaky Lover" encapsulates all of what Ricky White does best, the husky yet upper-register-laced, conversational intimacy, while the steamy cerebral sex in "Taste Your Love" evokes a romantic aura so strong the carnality of the lyrics hardly registers. "Taste Your Love" has the edge to be a significant single.
There are plenty of celebrated guests and contributors. "We Cried Together" presents a duet with Jerry L. (Jerry L. Minnis out of Memphis, who really cuts loose).
The Frank-O Johnson-written "Redbone," the featured single from the album, showcases a duet with T.K. Soul, albeit T.K. tweaked into synthesized anonymity.
"Ride Your Body," another piece of aural seduction, has already been covered by southern soul icon Charles Wilson. (Listen on YouTube.) Note, however, that both "Freaky Lover" and "Ride Your Body" previously appeared on 2013's MAJIC, still arguably White's best overall.
I noted the single-worthiness of the sultry ballad "Taste Your Love" from the set (above), but any of the LOVE ZONE ballads would qualify. "Angel" (a B-side version of "I'll Still Love You"), "Making Love," "I'll Always Love You Forever," "Super Woman" and "Strong Woman" are all strong, verse-and-chorus ballads.
There is one drawback: the canned sound, the sameness. Even allowing for the tolerance the southern soul audience has for programmed instrumental tracks, LOVE ZONE pushes the limits. Today's southern soul stars--new and old--are dazzling fans with live instruments and lush productions, compared to which White's arrangements--most specifically the faux brass sections--come off as neolithic, sometimes annoying and on the whole less than generous.
But with that caveat, and as it is, Love Zone bolts out of the gates as the most compositionally-rich collection of ballads of Ricky White's career.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Ricky White's new LOVE ZONE CD at Blues Critic.
Sample/Buy Ricky White's new LOVE ZONE CD at iTunes.
Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Ricky White.
Ricky White is the #54-ranked artist on Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Songs: 21st Century Countdown (00's – 10's). See the chart.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked J. Blackfoot's "I'm Just A Fool," you'll love Ricky White's "I'll Still Love You."
Honorary "B" Side
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