Robert Peckman may not be a household name, even in R&B circles, but his work certainly is. As a multi-instrumental go-to guy, he spent decades with the likes of the Skyliners, the Jaggerz, Pure Gold and Hoodoo Drugstore. Peckman was also half of the Billboard charting duo called Q, and part of Mike & Ike, whose solitary Arctic Records single from the '60s still gets plays on the northern-soul scene.
So Peckman's solo disc -- recorded at Jeff Ingersoll's ground zero for R&B revival, Mojo Boneyard in McKeesport -- ought to earn a few spins on name recognition alone. And fans of Stax and Atlantic Records soul music, the driving, rhythmic blues of Memphis and Muscle Shoals, will not be disappointed: Songs like "Don't Be a Reaper" and "Please Come Home" prove Peckman and his band are far beyond your standard-bearing barroom R&B group. Likewise, "Strugglin'," with its second-line drum snaps and mucky, funky, bourbon-soaked interwoven rhythms, is perfect sweaty-afternoon soul music.
But with all due respect to Peckman, the must-have moment on Stirrin' Up Bees is "Let's Talk It Over," featuring the first lead vocals laid down in 30 years by blue-eyed soul legend Johnny Daye. Pittsburgher Daye, a protégé and favorite of Otis Redding, recorded a few Stax singles in the late '60s but disappeared soon after Redding's untimely demise. "Talk" proves that retirement premature: Coming across like a more distinctly American Van Morrison, Daye's voice is just about as pure and confident as it was in the Stax days.
Likewise, Peckman, no shabby vocalist himself, proves that he still belongs in the sideman Valhalla, able to step up whenever necessary and, just as readily, step back and share the spotlight.