"Jesusí Son begins with a triple epiphany of ternary-meter tunes.
The melancholy country blues of Floyd Kramerís Last Date and the sweet
string-laden romanticism of Barbara Masonís Yes, Iím Ready, are bisected by Joe
Tex with the peerless deep south soul/blues of The Love You Save (May Be Your Own).
Thereís a downside to this disc, "So, Stop!" and inhale the sweet sound
of Joeís smoother-than-bourbon drawl. No barmen can serve a slick of Southern Comfort
that succours the soul to this extent.
Although veering from triple-time treats, the slide does not begin with the next track
Ė an intrepid offering from the albumís co-producer Joe Henry. If singing in the
shadow of Ray Charles and Joe Cocker isnít daunting enough, a cover of Unchain My
Heart has to carry the stigma (for the Australian market) of GST endorsement. "You
know darn well that I donít stand a chance" seems an apropos lyric, but with
more than a bit of help from his backing singers and some tight, rolling toms and funky
bass, Henry makes it good value (even after the tax slug). In a way, itís appropriate
that a cut from a movie called Jesusí Son is the redemption of this politically
abused soul classic.
Unfortunately, itís soon followed by the title track, the advent of which heralds
a less-than-heavenly kingdom of country kitsch that reaches its nadir with the final
track. Listening to Wilcoís Airline to Heaven is more like taking a bus to the bush.
It meanders along, rustically languishing in a limbo between Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, or
more accurately in an entirely different dimension.
So, a hard CD to rate overall: do four or five heavenly tracks redeem the sinful
sundry? Of course. After all, the only means by which a critic can save himself from
dissolution is the occasional gesture of compassion."