Young-Holt Unlimited, The Definitive Young-Holt Unlimited

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Too groove-oriented for jazzbos and too subtle for soul boys, Young-Holt Unlimited carved out a space in between.

The Young-Holt trio — bassist Eldee Young, drummer Isaac “Red” Holt and an interchangeable third on piano — were always victims of their own versatility. Too groove-oriented for serious jazz connoisseurs and too subtle for soul boys and girls, their best songs carved out a space in between. This excellent collection draws heavily from the late 1960s, when they split time between instrumental combo records and backing band duties for Brunswick ladies Erma Franklin and Barbara Acklin. Throughout, Young, with his thick, rope-like bass lines and Holt, with his chatty drumming, exhibit a rare talent to stay tight and pop-oriented without sacrificing their skillful playing, as on the mod instrumentals “Soulful Samba” and “Funky Duck,” quirky covers of “Light My Fire” (later sampled by De La Soul) and “Good Vibrations,” and of course their triumphant classic, the cheerful, horn-driven “Soulful Strut.” It's telling that “Soulful Strut” is better known than Acklin's gorgeous vocal version, “Am I the Same Girl” — Young-Holt's compositions could speak for themselves.