This album was originally released by De Castro on cassette in 1988 but has not been in general circulation for nearly 20 years. The 16 tracks were recorded live at The Basement in Sydney in October 1987 and accompanying De Castro were the cream of Australian musicians at the time – Mark Punch and Jimmy Doyle on guitars, Mark Kennedy on drums, Andy Thompson and Jason Brewer on saxophone. This selection of songs runs the gamut of r ‘n’ b and soul.
There are covers of standards of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Ben E. King and Little Richard incorporating songs such as Mustang Sally, Kansas City, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, Spanish Harlem and Fooled Around And Fell In Love.
From the instrumental intro of Green Onions, De Castro is soon into the groove. I particularly enjoyed the guitar work of Jimmy Doyle on Kansas City – unfortunately the harmonica player on this song is not credited [editor's note - the "harmonica" is actually keyboardist Dave MacRae playing a Yamaha DX7 with breath controller]. On the James Brown classic, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, De Castro actually injects some of his personality, which is unusual for him.
I thought his version of Elvin Bishop’s "Fooled Around & Fell In Love" was probably the highlight of the album, followed by the raunchy Hound Dog and the encore, Lucille.
These recordings were originally mastered by Duncan McGuire in late 1988, but have been masterly restored to CD quality by David Cafe. The sound is a big improvement from the cassette. It’s also good to hear De Castro ad lib a bit between songs, in his efforts to engage the crowd. However his effort to get some crowd participation on "Fa Fa Fa" doesn’t work, probably because the song is a bit obscure for most Australians brought up on a diet of top 40 staples, but on "Hound Dog" the band steps up a gear, and De Castro excels on Lucille, the Little Richard number which he has recorded a couple of times, although this version is less restrained than on others.
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Leo De Castro & Friends - Voodoo Soul
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