listen out for 2019...
the best albums and singles around - april 2019
marvin gaye - you're the man (album) - bobby sparks II - schizophrenia: the yang project (album)
Firstly, the album that Marvin Gaye dreamed of publishing in its entirety, now finally, seeing the light of day in 2019.
Keyboardist, Bobby Sparks, album features more of toadys premier jazz musicians, than many albums out there. Very Kamasi Washington in volume. Impressive album, featuring the superb Frank McComb.
rockie robbins - good life / kejam (feat. juanita wynn) - let it go
Consistently good new album from this seasoned soul singer. In great voice and thoroughly recommended. The new Kejam single is part of a series of releases, which will comprise of a complete album release later this year. If this track is anything to go by, it will be hugely successful.
the best albums and singles around - march 2019
isaac aragon - love bless america / lucas arruda - onda nova
Isaac's new single is one of the best Blue-Eyed Soul releases of the year so far, whilst Lucas Arruda's album, is probably the most consisent release, throughout, this year so far.
personal favourites: Issac Aragon: Love Bless America - Lucas Arruda: What I'd Do For Love/Heaven In Your Arms/Soulshine
brookyn groove machine - disco holiday / soulutions - who's been kissing you
Two great new dancefloor fillers from Randy Muller's new group, and Louise and Steve's Mehan's excellent Soulutions group. Both sides hugely optimistic in sound. Both highly recommended.
personal favourites: Brooklyn Groove Machine - Disco Holiday - Soulutions - Who's Been Kissing You
rockie robbins - good life / alexis evans - i've come a long way
Rockie Robbin's new album 'Good Life' is imminent. Judging by the tracks around at the moment, the man is well and truly back on form. A great artist. Alexis Evan's latest release is another example of the better Blue-Eyed releases around at the moment. Retro and recommended.
personal favourites: Rockie Robbins - Love Me Tonight - Alexis Evans - I Made A Deal With Myself
durand jones and the indications - american love call / india arie - worthy
The Durand Jones album harks back to an early Seventies, socially aware sound, not on the level of Marvin Gaye's 'What;'s Going On' album, but very definitely, a sound based on that era. Good progress for this group. India Arie's new album won't create any waves, although the song 'That Magic' well and truly gets stuck in the grey matter. Could be a 45 I think.
personal favourites: Durand Jones - Morning In America - India Arie - That Magic
mavtraxx - family ties / lucky daye - II
Two albums, almost being, simultaneously, ignored by almost everybody. Mavtraxx's tune (featuring the excellent Eric Roberson) is one of the best tracks released this year thus far. Quite superb. Lucky Daye's 4 track album 'II' is elevated above the norm, by the superb ballad 'Misunderstood'. Excellent stuff indeed.
personal favourites: Mavtraxx - So Easy/Diz Me Quando - Lucky Daye: Misunderstood
various artists - luxury soul 2019 / papik - little songs for big elevators
One of the better ways to ease yourself into each New Year, is to pick up, or download, the latest in the series of Luxury Soul releases each January. Expansion Records are a kite-mark of quality regarding Soul releases, and the standard has always been consistent. 2019’s triple CD takes the listener on a journey through the best of the new Soul based tracks (Disc One), the better dance based material (Disc Two) and the final disc being the best of the new and old material out there. Featured in amongst the creators on show here are the likes of Dira, Maysa, Inner Shade, Diplomats of Soul, Kloud 9, and Russian singer Olga Makovetskaya. Exclusive tracks showcased here feature Marc Evans, Steve Nichol (formerly of Loose Ends), Phillip Leo, (the excellent) Gina Foster, Buscrates, Raquel Rodriguez, Saskia, Zed Soul feat. Rose Vincent, Tracy Hamlin, Boogie Back, Patrice Isley, Victor Haynes and a new song from the evergreen One Way feat. Al Hudson. My personal recommendations here are superb songs by Blu Mitchell, Phillip Leo and the superb Gina Foster (who is due an album of her own, methinks, at some stage) on ‘What’s Happening Next?’ Ralph and Richard Searling should, by now, have been awarded an honour for their contributions to Soul Music over the years. The shelves are full of their product here, and long may that continue. Consistently, and always, highly recommended.
Nerio Poggi’s, Papik, are into their fourth full album now. There are several ‘related’ releases, which can, at times, drift into the ‘Elevator’s’ that this album’s title seems to hint, they might be mildly amused by. The first four major releases, have, all told, contain some superb moments. The first album featured the fine ’Notes Of The Past’, whilst 2012’s ‘Music Inside’ was one of my favourite albums from that year. Not sure why, in 2019, there has been a fall from grace of sorts, as they seem to continually release music of a very high standard. Consistently great are the voices of Ely Bruna and Alan Scaffardi, and they continue to contribute to ‘Little Songs for Big Elevators’. The album comes in a two disc package, which arrived just before Christmas here, so I had the whole of the holiday period to get to know these songs, of which I really loved the Alfredo Malabello ballad ‘Nevermore’, Alan Scaffardi’s excellent ‘Her Name Is’ and ‘Just For One Day’, Anduze’s ‘Get On’ and, (a personal favourite), ’Every-time I Look at You’ (feat. Letizia Liberati). On a change of language note, ‘Rien que je changerais’ (feat. Francesca Gramegna) has a beautiful melody. Whatever your take on the style Italian Soul Music is headed, it is important to remember to like what you like. If it is not another person’s cup of Earl Grey, if it does it for you, then let your heart (and ear) lead the way. Our tastes in music are one of the last great artistic freedom’s that politicians can never get their hands on......and regarding that aspect, ‘Hallelujah’! ‘Little Songs for Big Elevators’? Recommended in this house.
various artists - soul togetherness 2018
I really look forward to the end of September, beginning of October, periods of the year. This is where I can get a bit lazy, and allow Expansion Records to cherry pick, certainly, the better dancers around in recent months. Ralph Tee’s label never ceases to impress, with the quality of material, they, either unearth, or generate themselves at Expansion, and Soul Togetherness 2018 maintains their very high standards throughout.
Cornell CC Carter’s ‘That Feelin’ has been one of the mainstays at our own monthly gigs in Kingston over the last few months. Certainly tests those bass bins! Great singer and song. There are some great new dancers by the likes of, the ever reliable, Kenny Thomas, Jaki Graham (whose own solo album saw the light of day this year....’why didn’t anyone mention ‘Ready For Love’, one of this years best songs) and the excellent John Reid (here with an exclusive extended mix). It was also a surprise this year, to see a new album from one of the great bands of the Eighties, namely, Change. ‘Hit Or Miss’ is here in it’s album format, and, if you are asking yourself ‘is their music today, ’Hit Or Miss’?’, well, ‘No’ is the answer to that one! They are right back on form. Brian Courtney Wilson and Lexi are two artists who are in the roster of Motown's new gospel label (and promise a great deal, judging by these fine dancers), and, in the same vibe as the Devonns from earlier this year, we are treated to the excellent ‘Do Something’ by Ernest Ernie & The Sincerities. Great to see the Richie Family included here with 1982’s ‘One And Only’, taken from the same early eighties set that featured the classic ‘Walk With Me’ (an old Robbie Vincent tune). The album features 15 superb tracks, all of which would get any Soul & R&B party started right! Whilst everything around us changes repeatedly, on the World stage, thank heavens for material and releases such as these, which are more reliable than any Brexit plan dreamed up this side of the planet!...