A morning turntable appearance* in the past week – breakfast music has become the way to set the day right during lockdown – by Eli “Paperboy” Reed put this soul revivalist/enthusiast front of mind. And on the good foot.
(*his third album, Come And Get It!, if you’re wondering)
He may have looked like the kid going to pack your groceries, but he had the voice, the grooves, the punch and the wardrobe for southern soul. And, yes the songs. As you’ll see from this 2008 interview, squeezed in during a rare spare moment while he was touring his second album, Reed also had a few other attributes that made for a certain type of soul man.
On his seriously entertaining old school R&B/soul album, Roll With You, the round-faced white boy from Massachusetts, Eli "Paperboy" Reed, makes the bold, one could even say, cocksure claim that he is The Satisfier.
On the song of that name, swinging brass precede a yowl from the lower reaches of what the sports medics call the groin area and soon Reed is advising the “gals down running around thinking [they've] got a good man” that in fact "I'm the type of man who knows just what to do/and you’ll know just what you've been missing when I get through with you".
On behalf of those "gals", and their soon to be discarded boyfriends, I ask Reed what evidence can he provide that he is indeed the Satisfier?
"You want to talk to my girlfriend?" he responds. "She's here, I can put you on."
Well, she may not be an impartial critic in this matter, consequently we only have his word for it on this new album. A record which, admittedly, positively reeks of sex.
"Well, I hope that the record speaks for itself and provides enough satisfaction. If not, you'll have to wait for the next one I guess."
Surely then he should change his name from Eli "Paperboy" Reed to Eli "Satisfier" Reed. Granted, Paperboy is nice, but it's not really swinging, if you know what I mean.
"Yes, that's true," he concedes. "Paperboy has been around for a while so I decided to keep it. After we recorded The Satisfier, the band wanted to change their name from the True Loves to the Satisfiers but I thought the True Loves had a nicer ring to it.”
Nice, maybe but a word of advice: if you were to spend any time with the True Loves you might feel inadequate if you were to show up bearing only the name your parents gave you. This band carry the sort of monikers usually only found in police reports about crime world figures. Apart from Paperboy there is Ryan "Man Hawk" Spraker, Mike "Money" Montgomery, Andy "Funkatron" Bauer, Paul "Fidgety" Jones, Ben "Robocop Scientist" Jaffe, Patriq "Strange Affection" Moody and Emeen "Bay Area Funk" Zarookian.
"Some of the nicknames are real and some of them we made up," Reed confesses. "But everybody's got to have one. Honestly though, when I was living in Mississippi, everybody that I knew had nicknames and that's where Paperboy came from."
The nicknames work as part of the overall feel of this group and this album as a hot, sweaty working R&B band from a hot, sweaty nightclub where men and women come to get, well, hot and sweaty together. After all, a proper R&B band should wear sharp suits, play even sharper and come with the feeling that any one of them could get off the stage and either punch you out or make love to your woman.
Reed spends a few seconds chortling at this. "The thing about soul music is the trappings, the whole high drama and theatre of it. And that's kind of what I love about it. When we put on a show, it's a very dramatic show,” he says.
"For me, I don't really have any choice but to sing the way that I do. When we play, everything is out there on the table: you have to play with everything that you've got. All the energy, all the feeling that you can muster. And that's a powerful aphrodisiac. Or I hope so."
You have to sweat, otherwise it's not happening.
"By the time we have played, we are all drenched and that's the important thing," he says.
Not only drenched, but sometimes torn and tattered. Reed has been known to rip more than the occasional pair of trousers attempting a move on stage. Being only just into his 20s, Reed has never heard of the famous pants splitter of the 1960s, PJ Proby. I warn him that after a few of those episodes Proby ended up being kicked off television shows and concert tours in the UK.
"That's good to know. I probably should get my pants tailored better," he laughs. "I haven't had too many problems but luckily it's only happened a few times so hopefully I can continue to have a career."
Either way, it may be advisable for those of delicate sensibilities not to stand too close to the stage when Reed is performing. Not unless you really want to find out why he calls himself the Satisfier.