listen out for 2000...
Firstly, I would like to thank Chris Bangs and Michael Dumetz for turning me onto these two CD's.
Noel Elmowy hails from Australia and has the Expansion label, in London/Manchester, to thank for getting this one to the UK masses. Mainly a jazz set this one and the standouts for this old souler are, the cover of the old Webster Lewis chestnut 'El Bobo' (Noel does a really great job here) and the ballad 'Only For You'. The latter featuring the Rockmelons vocalist Doug Williams. You may remember 'Love's Gonna Take You Home' by him? Great release.
Musiq Soulchilds set is pretty good, too. Must say that all of the publicity shots for this guy show him falling off any chair the publicists put in front of him! Looks totally exhaused...what has the poor boy been up to? The music here is really great. 'The Girl Next Door' really gets into your mind and sticks there. For the real soulies, try 'You Be Alright'. Fine stuff.
This banner will take you to his Yahoo website.....go check it out...
Two albums here. One that came out at the rear end of last year...............Matron! The Sounds Of Blackness set came out the rear end of the earlier year..........Doctor, mind his back passage...............really!!
Karen Bernod's set is really great. Thanks to Michael Dumetz for recommending this. Prime cuts? Well for this old souler they have to be 'Rest Of My Life' and the beautiful 'Looking For Love'. Basically, if you liked the Ledisi set from 2000, you will go for this. Nuff said.
The Sounds Of Blackness CD, is pretty good, although you do have to single out the track 'Try' which has to be the cleverest sample of the Spinners 'It's A Shame', I have ever heard. Great band. Check their page at the site.
These two little gems arrived in the post yesterday, all the way from Omnibus Records in Illinois.
Byron Woods CD is a taster from a forthcoming release later this year. All I can say is, if the LP is as good as this sampler, we are all in for a real treat. This CD features 3 tunes in varying formats with the jazzy 'Work Of Art' really kicking things off nicely. There is also a version of Garry Glenn's 'You Don't Even Know' but for me the track 'You Are Here Tonight' really stands out. A top drawer ballad.
Mike Logan has a very impressive CV, working with the likes of Ramsey Lewis, The Emotions, The Staples Singers, Stanley Turrentine, Angela Bofill, Billy Paul and Anita Baker. The list is endless. There are 5 tunes here that include decent cover versions of 'Witchita Lineman', 'Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay' and 'Love The One You're With'. The standout cuts for these ears have to be the title track, which is just great and penned by Mike himself, along with the wonderful cover of the Detroit Spinners 'He'll Never Love You'. Really fine stuff.
The Koffee Brown 12" is outrageous. If you like El Coco's 'Let's Get It Together' then click on the cover to hear it. Totally infectious and great for the festive season parties. An album follows soon. Hope it is as good as this.
Toshi Kubota's CD has been around for a while and it was Robbie Vincent who played the track 'Gently' on his Sunday Jazz FM show here in London. Click on the cover to hear it. Real soul quality and I am pleased that I managed to get hold of this to share it with you. Now where is my Bank Managers phone number?............................
Derick Hughes CD has been around for a while as an American independent. Thought I ought to pick this one up before it disappears into obscurity. Really fine title track here, sounding not too dissimilar to Sherricks 'Just Call' from 1987. Punchy rhythm and great melody. This set is strong throughout and, for me, the ex Bridge man's set is made a bit special by the strong ballad 'More Than Love'. Really beautiful.
George Duke always turns out quality product and this set is no exception. One of George's strong qualities is that he can make a tune that creeps up on you and grabs your attention. I was listening to Robbie Vincents Sunday show when he played 'Sexy Cool' from this album. I thought to myself 'I have got to get this'. When he said it was from George Duke's new outing, I nearly fell off my chair. Wow. Real fine song. There are quite a few vocal tracks here and I recommend this CD unreservedly. Well done, George.
Sade's CD, I was lucky enough to have a preview of, thanks to Tim in the U.S. Very moody and on first listen you get the impression that the bank balance needed some topping up! However, and this is a big however, this set really creeps up on you. I have really grown to like the title track and, of the others, 'Immigrant' really stands out. My apologies for jumping to conclusions, missus!! Worth checking out.
Eryka Badu's second studio album features Roy Ayers and Betty Wright as musical contributors and this listener was a bit wary as to how this would stand up to her excellent first set. As I finish my third listen to this album, I can say that, Billie Holliday comparisons apart, this CD should be at the top of your Christmas list. It is BETTER than her first outing. Much more soulful and good from 'front to back', 'top to bottom'. Just listen to 'A.D. 2000' and you will see what I mean. Fantastic.
You know, you wait 25 years for a Lamont Dozier release on CD......and then along come two...or is it three! Reason why I say three is that there is a Holland/Dozier/Holland release entitled 'The Invictus Years' that showcase much of the 'Love & Beauty' album, but lets concentrate here on 'The Man'.
First offering is a really excellent release on Expansion records. This release covers the two released, and one un-released albums, he cut for ABC records. Now this originally surprised me in as much as I had thought these master tapes were destroyed in a fire at ABC studio's. So was I wrong? Well, I sent an email to Ralph Tee at Expansion and he told me that I was correct and that their compilation had been mastered from vinyl. As Ralph put it:
"Yes, original ABC masters were destroyed in a fire, but today's technology allows for vinyl to be restored and re-mastered sounding better than the original - and much better than a tape stuck in a store room for 25 years."
Well, all I can say he absolutely correct, as these sound just great and included here are four tracks from the excellent 'Prophecy' set, with 'She Walks All Over Me' doing it for these big ears! I must add that Richard Searling's sleeve notes are really excellent. He is obviously a BIG fan.
The 'Going Back To My Roots' set evenly divides the album releases over the years. You start at 'Love & Beauty' from 1973 and go through each set, on this double CD, moving through the years to the 'Bigger Than Life' set from 1983. No inclusions from the 'Inside Seduction' set, here but there are three unreleased tracks from the late eighties and nineties. Criticisms? Two. That is that, over the years, there are some sets stronger than others (in my humble opinion) and that including only three or four tracks from all the albums leaves omissions that really shouldn't be ignored. I am thinking of tracks like 'Take Off Your Make Up' and 'Groovin' On A Natural High'. Secondly, what happenned to the 'Working On You' LP that had the fabulous 'Starting Over (We've Made The Necessary Changes)' contained therein? Still, this CD is worth buying, solely, for the track 'Can't Get Off (Until The Feeling Stops)'. Interesting that both sets utilise the same image for the front cover?
These CD's have been along time coming and have made this Lamont Dozier fan a very happy old man!
This album has been aroung for a couple of months now. I have to thank Dave Jarvis and Michael Dumetz for getting me into this artist. 'You Are My Friend' has been getting a lot of airplay on Jazz FM and is a fine track. In places, Ledisi sounds a little like Teena Marie, inothers a little like Angie Stone. She packs a powerful set of tonsils! My favourite cut is the beautiful 'Free Again'. Solid set of real soul tunes that I would recommend to anyone interested in quality soul music.
The best two soul albums, out this year so far, are the Tommy Sims album and this little gem from Dennis Taylor. There has been a 12" single, of the title cut from CD, floating around in the specialist shops for the last year or so. I figured it might be added to a compilation or disappear without trace. Flowing over a mid-tempo groove, this is a modern soul dancer of the highest quality. The main CD came in yesterday and it is just great. I had heard previews on various radio stations of some of the tunes and you can take your pick from a really rich crop of tunes. There is a wonderful cover of Anita Bakers 'Angel', but for me it is the excellent 'Smile' that stands out with it's gentle hints of Slave's 'Just A Touch Of Love'. This set is essential.
The soundtrack to 'Bamboozled' is another movie vehicle for Spike Lee. It is the high regard that the black music fraternity holds for Lee, he can enlist the talents of the best soul people out there. So, here we are treated to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, Eryka Badu, Gerald Levert and even soft rocker Bruce Hornsby! The offerings from Stevie are excellent and full of the old politics that used to compliment his music back in the Seventies. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Gerald Leverts offering and Angie Stones' and Eryka Badu's tunes are delightful. The cover of Rufus's 'Hollywood' bringing back fond memories of the original. Worth a look at and thanks to Michael Dumetz for getting me into this one.
The Inner Shade set is, actually, from 1998. Back then it came out on import at the same time as Incognito's last CD 'No Time Like The Future'. The reason why I mention Incognito is that Inner Shade and Incognito are both Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick's projects. The Inner Shade set has now been released by the, UK based, Expansion Record label and is excellent. The project has featured vocals by Chris Ballin and Maysa Leak, who Maunick has utilised previously. It is well worth a purchase and has quality throughout. Thanks to Chris for this one.
There is an oblique link between the Inner Shade set and the Marlena Shaw set, in as much as, the Inner Shade set has been released by Ralph Tee's Expansion label and the Marlena Shaw set I won on Ralph's Jazz FM show a couple of weeks ago! The Marlena Shaw Anthology showcases her music through the last four decades and is a highly recommenable outing. Personal faves are 'So Far Away', 'Look At Me, Look At You' and 'Rhythm Of Love'. Well done Soul Brother Records. A fine release.
Any new product from this artist is to be welcomed. This release is Rosie's reaction to the music industry that she says 'stifles her artistry'. The result of this reaction is that this album is unavailable in the shops. Originally, it was only available from her website http://www.rosiegaines.com/ but is now more widely available from mp3.com. Is it any good? Yes, absolutely. She gets really funky on the title track but, for me, she is always at her best when she drops down a tempo or two. 'Sun Moon' is quite beautiful and 'Want An Angel' is her at her very best. Quality product.
Note to MP3.com. The packaging that came with the CD is minimal to say the least and more attention should be paid to this end of your marketing.
I must confess that I wasn't expecting a great deal from Rachelle Ferrells set , with it being nearly 8 years since her last excellent set, I guess I thought that some hip R & B producer might have got hold of her and knocked the 'soul' out of her. I was really pleased to see George Duke at the helm, ably assisted by Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and Byron Miller. There are some really fine moments here. 'I Gotta Go' is melodic and moody, 'Satisfied' is a fine slice of soul dance and 'Gaia' (with Jonathan Butler alongside) is really her at her best, reminding me a bit of her track 'Waiting' from the previous set. Go get this one. Her vocals are excellent.
As you will have gathered by now, I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Tommy Sims CD. Well, I have not been let down by the man. I think that Sims will become one of the major players, within the soul music field, over the rest of this decade. There is something very unusual about a guy that can write a tune, that is individual, and yet you feel you have known it for years. 'New jam' is the business and the title track is fantastic. He has even managed to get Stevie Wonder away from his drum machine for the fine 'Summer'. What can I say? Start at the beginning and let it wash over you. Album of the year. The man is a genius. Check his website http://www.tommysims.com
Xpression are Maurice White's protogeés and testify to the fact that the great man continues to work whilst suffering from Parkinsons. This album has a real 'back in the day' feel to it with the title track outstanding. Good CD throughout, with my only criticism being the cover artwork.
Will Downing - All The Man You Need
Welcome return to form for Will Downing. Very much more 'street' than his previous offerings. Kicks off with the very 'jungle' sounding 'Summers Day', co-written with the highly talented Armsted Christian. Highlights, on a really great set, are 'Thinking About You', the mellow 'Only A Moment Away' and the excellent 'Share My World' sampling the, highly underrated and sadly missed Noel Pointers, version of Stevie Wonders 'Superwoman'. This is a fine outing.
As an addendum to this review, I received a sales list from Record Corner in Balham, South London (used to buy my imports from there back in the seventies and they are still going......... and they said it wouldn't last!) with a review of this CD. They reckon it is the worst CD he has ever made. Phew, must have been that time of the month! As I said on the opinions page, it is all in the ear of the beholder.....................
Brenda Russell - Paris Rain / Reggie Calloway - Walking Through Raindrops
Both of these new releases signal a return to recording for both of these acts. Brenda Russell's last outing was nine years ago and this release is a big improvement on that one. She is helped out on singing/playing chores by the likes of Dave Koz, Paulinho Da Costa, Kirk Whalum, The Perri Sisters, Greg Phillinganes, Arnold McCuller, Siedah Garrett, David Lasley, Sheila E, Carl Anderson, Everette Harp and the Yellowjackets. In fact, if I had known about this, I would have hung around outside the recording studio with my autograph book! Best track, well they are all good but if I was made to choose by Mike Tyson, it would have to be the beautiful 'She's In Love'. Fine Stuff. Go Check Her Website
Reggie Calloways album is out on Expansion. That should be enough to guarantee a purchase by a real soul punter. That label has quality running all the way through it's produce. For me, the tracks that stand out are 'Man's Gotta Do' and 'Bring Back The Love'. If you think you have heard of this guy before, he was in Midnight Starr in the Eighties, responsible for tracks such as 'Curious', a rapper samplers delight. Fine Output.
Tunes Recommended By Roy Power - 28/7/2000 (Thanks Roy)
Hed Kandi - Disco Kandi CD
Dimitri From Paris - A Night At The Playboy Mansion (xlnt mix cd)-(includes Originals 'Down To Lovetown')
Dj Food - Kaliedoscope LP
Amalgamation Of Sounds - Their 2nd Compilation LP
Original Soulboy 12"
The Police - You Can't Go Wrong
Lucy Pearl - Lucy Pearl
Got to thank Chris Bangs for turning me on to this one. Lucy Pearl are, basically, Tony Toni Tone in another guise. If you hadn't seen the cover, you would swear that, what you were listening to, was the Tony's themselves. Although the set doesn't contain any 'Anniversary's' it is well constructed with 'Dance Tonight' and 'Without You' doing it for me. Thanks, Chris. Excellent.
Shaft Soundtrack / Phat Cat Players - Make It Phat, Baby!
Two new releases highlighting two very seperate directions in the soul music styles of today.
Shaft is noteworthy for the, surprisingly excellent, contributions included here by R. Kelly. No longer does he want to 'fly', but really has got his musical feet on the ground with his track 'Up And Outta Here'. Retro and one of the best of the year so far. Additionally, there is an Angie Stone track thrown in for good measure! A good example of the new R & B generation out there.
The Phat Cat Players are retro, but still sound fresh. 'The Phat Cat Theme', 'African Bee' and 'Sundress' could have been made 25 years ago. 'This Is Your Day' is just beautiful. If you liked the 'Sunburst Band' and 'Eastside Connection' sets, from last year, with a large helping of contemporary soul a la Tony Toni Tone, then this one is for you. Oh yes, thanks to Lynne Boon for her help with these.
Jill Scott - Who Is Jill Scott?
Roland DeVilliers and Michael Dumetz steered me in the direction of this one. Quite weird and, if you are familiar with the artist 'Grenique', this has a very similar feel to it. Taken from an eight track sampler, I can highly recommend this to your good selves. When it officially comes out, who knows! Favourite cut? 'Slowly, Surely' hits the spot for me.
As an add on to the info above, the main CD arrived last week. All I can say is that this woman is going to be very popular with the soul, yes, and rock audiences out there! The tracks that the sampler missed are quite excellent. Thanks to Mike for that one.
Angie Stone - No More Rain
This time last year the only people who knew about Angie Stone were either those in the business or those who owned Vertical Hold albums. Things have moved on a great deal since then with appearances on Jools Holland and huge album sales. This, was, and still is my favourite cut from her Black Diamond set cleverly sampling Gladys Knights 'Neither One Of Us' and sounding like Shirley Brown. Standout cut. If you missed it first time go get it now. Essential.
Soundtrack To 'Love & Basketball'
This CD is essentially a compilation of old and new soul tracks from the new Spike Lee vehicle. There are a couple of dodgy rap tunes, however, this is really worth a second glance at with two gems. Firstly, after her success with the 'Black Diamond' CD from last year, Angie Stone comes up with a cover of Simply Red's 'Holding Back The Years'. Pretty good stuff, but for me the killer tune is the Donell Jones dancer 'I'll Go'. Written by Steve 'Silk' Hurley and Rahsaan Patterson, so you know it is going to be quality. On my list for one of best of the year. Great.
The Temptations - Ear-resistable
Always a pleasure when a new Temptations album appears. This is the follow up to the excellent 'Phoenix Rising'. Very soulful and definitely worth a listen.
Tommy Sims - 'New Jam'
Taken from the compilation 'Essence Men'
This track is simply the best tune this year. It is on a compilation CD titled 'Essence Men' and the cover looks as though it should be destined for the bargain bin. Miss at your peril.
Soundscape - A New Groove
Very difficult to be objective about this one as Chris Bangs has been a long time friend. What I will say is that this CD beats a lot of what's out there hands down. Rita Campbell has a fine voice. Tells me she is about to tour with the Brand New Heavies. Nigel Price has been recruited by Jamiroquoi. Tomorrow the world?.....................Cover by yours truly!
Camelle Hinds - Vibe Alive
No problem in recommending this set to you. Worth the purchase alone for his excellent cover of Leroy Hutson's 'Closer To The Source' (Much played on Robbie Vincent's Jazz FM Show). Dig alittle deeper and check out 'Carupano' and the dancer 'Keep The Vibe Alive'. Great Stuff (Albeit me being a little late in reviewing this one! Slap wrists and all that.)
Al Jarreau - Tomorrow, Today
Was in the country during May. Real return to form. 'Last Night' is excellent as is 'Flame'. Do check the rest of this set. His best in a long time.
Frank McKomb - Love Stories
This album threatened to never be released, but arrived a month or so ago. People say he sounds like Stevie. I reckon he is more in the Donny Hathaway vein. 'Love Natural' is fantastic.
Olu - Soul Catcher
Wasn't aware of this album at all, until my old friend Michael Dumetz pointed me in his direction. Fine set of songs. Recommended.
Slim Man - Jazzified
Leftfield album from a weird looking guy in a nifty suit. If you like Michael Franks and Bernard Oattes you will go for this.
Ronny Jordan - A Brighter Day
Modern Tribe - Groove On
More excellent output from Ralph Tee's Expansion Label
Amel Larrieux - Infinite Possibilities
Very good set from the ex Groove Theory / Sweetback singer. 'Down' has a real jazzy feel to it.
Philip Evans - Vinth
Almost forgot that people still make CD's like this one. Real soul stuff a la Ronnie McNeir in parts. Heaven knows why he called this set 'Vinth'. Maybe he lost his false teeth and the albums about his best mate Vince!!
Maysa Leak - All My Life
Bought this last year on a japanese label. Thankfully Ralph Tee's Expansion label has given it a release (where would we be without them?). The track 'Compliments' has a real 'Back in the day' feel to it. Good all the way through. Maysa's voice is fantastic.