Saturday, 22 September 2018 18:35 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

altAll the predictions, it seems, are coming true. Before release and after sneak previews, the US soul pundits were tipping a new album from Atlanta soul man JERMAINE ROBBINS to become one of the really big albums of 2018. After just a few weeks, 'THE JOURNEY WITHIN' is already scaling all the credible soul charts and savvy radio jocks are cherry picking tracks to play out regularly.

The amazing thing is that Jermaine is relatively unknown. He describes himself as an "artist, arranger, producer, entertainer, and lyrical theorist" and tells us that he got the music bug aged just 5 doing Marvin Gaye and Jackson Five routines for his family. After winning local talent shows, young Jermaine was soon on the road with a band called Full Deck. Then a solo career beckoned. His first album was 'Reflections of My Soul' which was followed by an EP and a clutch of singles that all sold well in and around Atlanta.

Now, 'The Journey Within' is all set to bring young Jermaine to a much bigger audience. Up top we said that the radio spinners were "cherry picking" songs from off the 10 tracker.... well, that's not quite right. You see with 'The Journey Within' there's no need to "cherry pick". NIne of the cuts are wonderful modern soul creations while 'She Wants That Good Life' is a clever take on contemporary R&B; put simply, though, there's no filler here. Jermaine says: "It has always been disappointing to me to pick up an album that has only one or two good songs. I want to give listeners what they deserve. I want to touch all bases and give them variety. I want them to feel what I feel when I sing each song."

That said let's just point out a few of the album's really choice cuts. 'I Can't Get Enough' is a crisp, modern soul beater; 'I Love It' is a beautiful ballad; while 'Gave You All My Love' is a proper heart-breaker, reminding you of why you got into soul music in the first place.

On those tracks and indeed throughout the album, you'll constantly be making comparison with a certain Michael Jackson. Jermaine's vocal timbre and approach as well as his song construction bear uncanny resemblances to the MJ's very best work. He, I'm sure, would have been proud to have, made an album like this; I also contend that in the whole of Michael's catalogue there isn't a more properly soulful track than Jermaine's 'Gave You All My Love'. Yes, it's that good. You must investigate.


Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2018 18:44



Saturday, 22 September 2018 15:48 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSeveral soul forums have been reporting the September deaths of two soul stalwarts. First, we've learned that old school R&B sax man, BIG JAY MCNEELY (a.k.a. Cecil James McNeely), passed on 16th September in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

McNeely began his career way back in the 40s working with Johnny Otis, and then working for Savoy Records he had his first hit in 1949 with 'The Deacon's Hop'. He worked steadily through the 50s and 60s – both as a solo artist and an in-demand side man. However in '71 he quit music and became a postman! In the 80s he made a musical comeback and was eventually inducted into The Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.

Though details are sketchy, it's also reported that JOHNNY DAWSON of Motown group, the Elgins died this month. Dawson was a founder member of the group ... originally called the Downbeats. They occasionally backed Marv Johnson and this link brought them to Motown but their recording career there was, to say the least, sporadic. In 1965, by them fronted by Saundra Edwards, they did hit with 'Darling Baby' and it was at this time that they started using the Elgins tag (a name occasionally used by the Temptations). They also enjoyed chart action with 'Heaven Must Have Sent You'. In '67 they broke up but an early 70s a reissue of 'Heaven Must Have Sent You' became a huge European hit and the group reformed to promote it. In the 80s they also worked with Ian Levine's Motorcity set up.



Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2018 15:59


STILL CHIC! Rhino To Release Chic Organisation Retrospective...

Thursday, 20 September 2018 08:45 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF



With Nile Rodgers and CHIC about to release a brand new album, 'It's About Time,' on September 28th, Rhino, owners of the group's Atlantic catalogue, have announced that  they'll be issuing a box set called 'The Chic Organisation 1977-1979' on November 23rd. The set - which comes in 5-CD and 6-disc vinyl formats - includes freshly remastered versions of the group's seminal first three albums: 'Chic,' 'C'est Chic,' and 'Risque.'

Exclusive to the vinyl set is a replica of the band's first 12-inch single, 'Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah),' which was initially released as a one-off on Buddah Records before Atlantic signed the group to an album contract. Rhino have used the original, much bassier, Buddah mix, which Niles Rodgers contends is superior to the Atlantic version.

Sister Sledge's totemic LP from 1979, 'We Are Family,' helmed by Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards,  is also included in the set along with a disc of 7-inch single edits and 12-inch remixes.

Nile Rodgers and Chic will be performing some of their greatest hits as well as new material on their UK arena tour this December. The dates are as follows:

13th – Glasgow, SSE Hydro Arena

15th – Manchester, Arena

16th – Birmingham, Arena

18th – Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena

19th – London, The O2

Tickets are available from 

Read SJF's interview with Nile Rodgers here:


The Chic Organisation 1977-1979' is released on November 23rd via Rhino.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2018 11:22



Wednesday, 19 September 2018 08:31 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                     altOriginally from Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, fusion keyboard legend, JEFF LORBER, has been making records since the late 1970s but only grabbed his first Grammy earlier this year for his 2017 long player, 'Prototype,' which triumphed in the category of Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.  That was Lorber's debut for Shanachie Records and he now follows it up with 'Impact,' which has just been released by the same US label.

Credited to JEFF LORBER FUSION (the group moniker he used on his 1977 debut LP and has used at regular intervals since then), 'Impact' also features the talents of fusion luminaries, saxophonist Andy Snitzer, bassist Jimmy Haslip, and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr.  Other contributors include reed specialist Dave Mann and drummer Gary Lovak.

Highlights on the 10-track album range from the frothy, funkafied opener, 'Sports Coat Makes Good,'  with its unison keyboard and horn motifs and the breezy, elegant 'Highline', to the dreamy ballad, 'Quest,' and the chugging, Latin-esque 'Citizenship,' the latter intended as a homage to hard bop piano maestro, Horace Silver.  

Says Jeff Lorber: “I hope people listening to 'Impact' will enjoy it as much as we did making it. The real completion of the album is when the fans get their hands on it and hopefully really dig it. We’re also looking forward to playing this material on the road, which will be a lot of fun.”

'Impact' is out now via Shanachie

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2018 11:19



Monday, 17 September 2018 19:04 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                         altCurrently occupying the coveted support slot on Kamasi Washington's Heaven & Earth tour in the USA is Virginia quintet, BUTCHER BROWN. They first arrived on the music scene with their unique and unclassifiable meld of jazz, R&B, funk and hip-hop  in 2014 when they issued their debut album, 'All Purpose Music,' on Ropeadope.  Now, they're about to unleash their second album on the UK-based Gearbox label, and it's the follow-up to last year's critically-lauded in-concert LP, 'Live At Vagabond.'  Their new project is called 'Camden Session,' and its title alludes to the fact that it was recorded in North London at producer Mark Ronson's studio.

The band (comprising keyboardist DJ Harrison, drummer Corey Fonville, bassist Andrew Randazzo, trumpeter Marcus Tenny, and guitarist Morgan Burrs) have been dubbed the hip-hop generation's Mahavishnu Orchestra and have been tipped for stardom. 'Camden Session' is a four-track instrumental album that features the group's new single, 'Camden Square' and has the distinction of being recorded live direct to disc. It's available on both vinyl LP and CD.

Butcher's Brown's 'Camden Session' is released on October 12th via Gearbox Records.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2018 11:20


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