James Carr | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

James Carr

If James Carr had recorded only "The Dark End of the Street," his place of honor in the R & B firmament would be secure. That 1967 hit, a chilling vignette of furtive love and romantic desperation, has been praised as the finest soul ballad ever waxed--Carr employs a pantheon of gospel embellishments yet remains utterly in control as he stares into the face of catastrophe ("They're gonna find us! They're gonna find us!") with the unflinching resolve of a condemned man. Many of his other songs are nearly as searing, and even his B-sides churn with sensual fervor and spiritual turmoil. Carr descended into his own personal nightmares in the late 60s and was thought for years to be irrevocably lost, but in 1994 his bluesy Soul Survivor CD found him still in command of considerable vocal and emotional power. His reemergence may not quite be the equivalent of Robert Johnson materializing out of the mists of some Mississippi bayou, but it's close enough, and this rare Chicago appearance is not to be missed. Friday, 9:30 PM, and Saturday, 10 PM, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452. David Whiteis

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Marc Norberg.

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