Though he would become synonymous with grand, bombastic soul ballads, singer Billy Paul‘s career did not start out that way. His 1968 debut–an album long out of print–was a live-in-the-studio recording of Paul with his jazz trio. It is stunning, then, when one first hears introductory number “Billy Boy,” for his style is much more akin to Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. It’s lighthearted, free-spirited singing, of a kind that he would soon abandon. Additionally, the material performed here consists mostly traditional and contemporaneous jazz fare. His take of “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” is sugary sweet and charming, as is the funky “Bluesette,” where he offers some great scat singing. Also not worth missing is his take on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Those beholden to his later sound won’t be disappointed, as there are hints of what is to come; his version of Leonard Bernstein‘s “Somewhere” is a gorgeous ballad that is heartrendingly beautiful, while his take on Anthony Newley‘s “Feelin’ Good” is very much like what would be found on 360 Degrees of Billy Paul; an epic, dark take of a popular show tune that clocks in at nearly nine minutes. Feelin’ Good At The Cadillac Club is a somewhat low-key debut from one of the best soul singers of the 1970s.
Categories: Album Reviews