Up Your Mind

Up Your Mind

by Ellis HooksEllis Hooks


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Up Your Mind is the American debut by soul-blues singer/songwriter Ellis Hooks. Originally hailing from Mobile, AL, he was an itinerant musician, scrambling and scuffling across the globe, often as a busker. His debut album, Undeniable, garnered a slew of attention on the other side of the Atlantic and has afforded him the notoriety and critical acclaim to play the Montreux Jazz Festival and the esteemed Poretta Festival in Italy. Hooks resides in New York and is remaking music in his own image by using and fusing traditional elements from soul, rock, and the Mississippi Delta played in a direct, gritty manner. Hooks doesn't sift and he doesn't blend, he sculpts and shapes, leaving the rough grain on the surface to admire. Hooks and veteran producer Jon Tiven offer a streetwise, passion-filled toughness in their deep, sensual mix. Hooks has a voice that owes a great debt to Otis Redding first and Wilson Pickett second (who Tiven produced for many years), and an approach in his songwriting that is eclectic, knotty, and groove-solid. Up Your Mind's 13 songs run the gamut from the funky, dirty city blues of the opener "Ridin' With Fire" (with a distinct guitar line that comes straight outta "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo") to the Muscle Shoals-strolling soul groove à la Eddie Hinton of "Controlling Picasso" and the swollen, smoky, deeply sensual roil of "Down for the Last Time." Here, stinging guitars and Hammond B3's crisscross under a heavily reverbed vocal with a double-timed rhythm track that is ready for remixing by DJs in clubs all over the world. (Don't be surprised if it ends up on a Gilles Peterson mix in the near future.) But still there's more; the straight-up Godfather of Soul funk in "Last Chance for Happiness" is over the top and down in the grease with a nasty rhythm and snarling vocal. The elasticity in the grain of Hooks' voice is astonishing, and he could wrap emotion around the words on the back of a cereal box. Like those before him, his vocal gift is in his ability to make every song he sings the last one on earth. An added treat on this slab is "Man of the Blues," a chilling autobiographical tome. With its ragged slide guitar blues, Hooks duets with Freddie Scott, who sounds here like Pops Staples at his rowdiest. Hooks' own lines are full of razor wire and tears; they offer a dark story with a redemptive ending. Tiven's guitar playing is stellar and in the pocket, leading the singers just a bit into each line before exploding with a fill. Up Your Mind is the sound of a monstrously talented individual who may be coming to the populace as a newcomer but carries in his voice the authority and lineage of the entire Southern soul and blues traditions. Up Your Mind is an outstanding release that deserves to be shortlisted for the Handy Award.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/28/2003
Label: Evidence
UPC: 0730182612929
catalogNumber: 26129
Rank: 179614

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ellis Hooks   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Omar Hakim   Percussion,Drums
Freddie Scott   Vocals
Martin Ditcham   Percussion,Drums
Anton Fig   Percussion,Drums
Jon Tiven   Electric Guitar,Hammond Organ
Sally Tiven   Bass Guitar
Todd Snare   Percussion,Drums
Laurence Singer   Background Vocals
Mason Casey   Harmonica
Marvin Floyd   Organ,Piano
Prema   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Jon Tiven   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes
Sally Tiven   Composer
Sandy Carroll   Composer
Brian Brinkerhoff   Executive Producer
Ellis Hooks   Composer

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