Marvin Sease | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Marvin Sease 

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If any one artist has come to personify soul-blues, it's Marvin Sease. A former gospel singer who began his career in the 60s, he uses his emotionality and muscular timbre to invoke some deep soul on his ballads, but he's all sauciness and arrogance on his notorious novelty songs, which all seem to have hair-curling titles like "I Ate You for My Breakfast." For better and for worse Sease is defined by his lyrics: he's deliciously naughty one moment and embarrassingly puerile the next, bulldozing through once-taboo subjects like oral sex--his breakout late-80s hit, "Candy Licker," remains the standard against which all soul-blues tunes about cunnilingus are judged. In the studio he leans on synthesized rhythms and melodies, but there's usually also a flesh-and-blood soloist or two on hand to add sinew to the tracks, and his touring band, one of the few outfits working the chitlin' circuit that carries a horn section, is skintight and funky. He also shows more emotional depth onstage. On last year's Live With the Candy Licker (Malaco), released on both CD and DVD, he's still up to his usual antics, playing the trickster with a hard-on and a heart of gold. But on "Marvin's Testimony / Live My Life Again," a spoken-word sermon that segues into an inspirational ballad, Sease digs into his gospel roots with house-wrecking results, and "Please Take Me" is a meditation on life and love couched in down-home aphorisms and tributes to the steadfast wisdom of a country mother. Bobby "Blue" Bland, Willie Clayton, and Bobby Rush headline; Mel Waiters, Theodis Ealey, Latimore, and Shirley Brown open. Sat 2/25, 6 PM, Arie Crown Theater, McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-791-6190 or 312-559-1212, $47-$55. All ages.

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