Bill Coday | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bill Coday 

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BILL CODAY

Soul singer Bill Coday waxed some classic sides on Denise LaSalle's Chicago-based Crajon label in the late 60s and early 70s, then disappeared for almost two decades. In 1995 he launched a comeback with the widely acclaimed Sneakin' Back (Ecko), and this year's Put Me in the Mood is the most completely realized album of his career. Coday musters a time-tested mix of gospel fervor and dusky romance, but what keeps his singing fresh is his ability to convey emotional intensity without theatrics or bathos. On the title track, a midtempo workout, his leathery croon quivers with sexual tension; on high-energy numbers ("I'm Gonna Stand Up for Myself," "I'm a Honey Do") he ascends into ecstasy without abandoning his limber vibrato or full-bodied tone. Though Coday radiates warmth, he lacks the charge of studly types like Johnnie Taylor and Latimore. But don't expect restraint or gentility: he's got a thrilling, take-no-prisoners soul scream, and on straight-ahead blues ("Country Back Hills Juke Joint," "I'm Ready to Ball"), he swoops effortlessly from his usual churchy testifying into a lascivious, funky grind. Also on the bill is Jo Jo Murray, a Chicago-based journeyman who purveys a winning blend of soft-soul delicacy and smooth blues sophistication--when he's not cluttering up his act with imitations of more famous artists. Monday, 6 PM, East of the Ryan, 914 E. 79th; 773-874-1500. DAVID WHITEIS

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