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Wilson Pickett
"It's Harder Now"
(Bullseye Blues & Jazz)
RATING:
'The Wicked One' Back in Action

   A 1991 Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction was the only noise in the '90s for "The Wickett" Wilson Pickett — until now.

   "It's Harder Now" (Bullseye Blues & Jazz), Pickett's first album since 1987, proves he hasn't lost a step; the Wicked One's voice has gotten better with age, producing the closest contender to Robert Cray for best soul album of the year.

   "Taxi Love" displays Pickett's raw, soulful sound, while "What's Under That Dress?," "All About Sex" and "Hangin' Out With the Bad People" are clearly looking to hit the charts. "Stomp" is a funky groove — need anything else be said?

   The movie "The Commitments" was based on the life of the man who recorded the classic hits "In the Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally." Pickett pays tribute to the times with "Soul Survivor," which notes: "We hit the big time in Memphis, but we came up in Muscle Shoals." The title track "It's Harder Now" reflects the mindset of a jaded lover, and you can hear it in Pickett's voice.

   Maybe The Wicked One won't wait so long for a follow-up.
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