One of the more unusual entries in the esteemed Folkways catalog is The Montgomery Movement, the sole recording by Florida-based duo The Montgomery Express. For a label that specialized in historical documents and field recordings, this is a contemporary album made by a young group with commercial ambitions. Paul Montgomery and Charles Atkins, the two young men on the cover, were both blind, self-taught musicians who showed great promise in spite of their disabilities. Ironically, this otherwise world-renowned archival label released the album to near-instant obscurity, and original copies easily trade for hundreds of dollars.
While they show a great deal of raw potential, The Montgomery Movement is very much a debut album, with eight cuts that hint at their talent. The album opens with the title track, a rather hot R&B number with scorching saxophone and requisite wah-wah guitar that…well, sounds exactly like 1974. “Steal Away” and “Left Me With A Memory” are heavy ballads that aren’t bad, but they share the same chord progressions—both of which sound exactly like The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” Better are “Who” and “Standing By,” two uptempo tracks in a Bill Withers/Al Green/Johnnie Taylor style that’s quite enjoyable, and “Party Fever” is a lighthearted funk instrumental that once again shows them to be masterful.
The Montgomery Movement is by no means groundbreaking. Instead, it’s a brief, moment-in-time document of two inspiring young men who, for a brief moment, shone brightly and shared their potential to the world.