|Recording information: 900th Street Recorders, New York, NY; GB's Underground, Wheatley Heights, NY; Suite A Studios, Sarasota, FL; Thrill Hill Studios, Rumson, NJ.
|Gary U.S. Bonds is the kind of singer who seemingly just can't resist making a comeback every 20 years or so. He first came to fame in the early '60s with the rock & roll hit "Quarter to Three," but fell off the radar until admirer Bruce Springsteen masterminded his 1981 return, DEDICATION. After a couple more releases, Bonds spent another two decades away from the studio before unleashing the wryly titled BACK IN 20. With so much water under the bridge, there was no reason to expect the Southern soul man to recapture his former glory, but against all odds, he does just that. Sure, there are the prerequisite guest appearances (from the Boss, Southside Johnny, Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts, and Phoebe Snow), but this is no desperate, mix-and-match, hit-hopeful duets album. Bonds's buddies stick to second-fiddle status, ceding the spotlight to his soulful, seemingly ageless voice as he gamely charges through a dozen tracks of rollicking juke-joint/bar-band R&B of the sort very rarely played by first-generation practitioners in the 21st century.