Little Phil (Rosenberg) has an impressive resume, starting in 1964 as a 14-year old protégé with a Southern band called the Night Shadows. He was immediately recognized as a natural talent, even at that tender age. There was little reluctance putting him with the company of musicians 10 years older. The kid had the goods: persuasive voice, super-eager attitude, and an eye-popping James Brown-type stage persona Most of all, his soulful conviction went far beyond his years and helped break down any preconceived notions. The band would break up in 1969, but it developed a well-deserved cult following thanks to relentless touring and frequent recordings in the Rock, R&B, and Soul fields. Check out the CDBaby website for more information on the amazing history of Little Phil. You’ll find it intriguing.
Now it’s over 40 years later, and where Little Phil seems heading is fascinating based on "Out Of The Shadows". Actually his vocal chops have aged remarkably well, like fine bourbon. Phil oozes pure, unadulterated soul with every breath, plus he’s backed by a killer band and superb backup vocalists. I noticed special guest guitarist and top-drawer recording artist Theodis Ealey on the opening cut "Get Over Yourself" which gets things off to a propulsive start and thing stays that way for the following mainly original 9 tracks.
It baffled me, but there was a certain artist Little Phil reminded of. But I couldn’t pinpoint the name? Recently I happened to be listening to Nathaniel Mayer, a Detroit legend from the 60’s also back on the comeback trail. Then it struck like lightning! Little Phil and "Nay Dog" share many of the same qualities with their raw, highly energetic style. My ears never fail me!
I just can’t say enough good things about "Out Of The Shadows", but what’s most impressive is the way the whole enterprise sounds so celebratory, making it difficult to believe that Phil and the 7-8 other musicians haven’t been a close musical family for decades. This is a studio production but the electricity generated is strictly "live show" wattage
I could dwell at length about every track and the Soul legends they evoked memories of (Solomon Burke, Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Betty Wright, Gwen McRae, Gladys Pips). It’s very apparent though that Little Phil has special respect for deep, southern-based heroes like Mel Waiters, and especially O.B. Bryant who wrote two of the strongest tracks via the poignant "Take The Bitter With The Sweet", and "Blues Party": a super funky slice of pure Southern Soul. Intoxicating stuff!
You can never discount the importance of geography in evaluating roots music and Little Phil and the Shadows come from a region where tradition is taken extremely seriously. It sounds like that tradition has been embedded in their bloodstream.