Wednesday, 04 August 2010 08:53 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Mark_KingAre Level 42 a jazz-funk band with a pop sensibility or a pop group with a funk-infused inner core? A good question, perhaps, but it's a hard one to answer and though they've never been easy to pigeonhole, one thing's for sure; back in the day, the quartet from the Isle of Wight knew how to make records that would appeal to the wider public without sacrificing their musical integrity. Though they were part of the nascent Brit Funk movement in the early '80s, they quickly demonstrated that their musical vocabulary extended beyond the somewhat constricting parameters of jazz-funk.

Between 1980 and 1994, Level 42 were virtually omnipresent in the UK singles chart. They notched up a very impressive 29 chart entries in a fertile fourteen-year spell that yielded the Top 10 hits 'The Sun Goes Down (Livin' It Up),' 'Something About You,' 'Lessons In Love' (which was the nearest they got to a UK chart topper, peaking at #3 in 1986), 'Running In The Family,' 'To Be With You Again,' and 'It's Over.' All those key tracks can be found on an excellent new 4-CD box set retrospective on Universal called 'Living It Up.' Not only does it include all the band's singles – beginning with a funky instrumental called 'Sandstorm' that lit up clubs back in 1980 – but also includes a raft of previously unheard studio rarities (including demos) and a brand new acoustic album where surviving original members bassist/vocalist Mark King and keyboard player Mike Lindup, reconfigure some of the band's classic songs in an unplugged setting.

The release of 'Living It Up' coincides with Level 42's thirtieth anniversary as well as a global tour, which started in May and ends in November (the band play a couple of UK dates in August as a warm up for a lengthy tour of the British Isles later in October). Renowned for his astonishing skill on the bass guitar and currently gigging in the USA with the band, Mark King found time to talk to SJF's Charles Waring about the group and its music.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 August 2010 09:18



Monday, 19 July 2010 18:00 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

blueyAny new release from INCOGNITO is a soul landmark, but the band's new long player is something a little bit more special. The new set 'TRANSATLANTIC RPM' marks INCOGNITO'S thirtieth anniversary. SJF couldn't let that go unnoticed so we caught up with INCOGNITO main man BLUEY MAUNICK to find out more about the album. First, though, we wanted to know how, after 30 years, JEAN-PAUL motivated himself to make new music.....

Simple...I am inspired by all things around me. Good days, bad days, sunny days and rainy days, making up and breaking up... my record collection, what I read and what I taste and the journeys I make with the band. I make music to accompany all the above and all the above never fail to inspire! 

Why have you called the new album 'Transatlantic RPM'?

This is an album recorded in Europe and the USA. I have been deeply influenced by music from across the pond and this album sees me coming full circle, from listening to my record collection and to working with these inspirational artists on the album – like CHAKA KHAN, AL MCKAY and LEON WARE. I also relate to coming full circle and the revolutions per minute of all the old vinyls that constantly inspire me. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 July 2010 15:40



Thursday, 15 July 2010 17:40 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

IMG_1366Mississippi's SYL JOHNSON (born SYLVESTER THOMPSON in 1938) doesn't mind anyone calling him a soul veteran. His music career began in the mid-fifties when he cut his teeth playing in the bands of people like MAGIC SAM, JUNIOR WELLS and JIMMY REED. He made his solo recording debut in 1959 on the Federal label, then in the mid sixties SYL began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago before WILLIE MITCHELL eventually took him to Hi. After the Hi years ended, JOHNSON produced two LPs for his own Shama label then sometimes in the 80s, he started a fast-food fish restaurant business but soul music was never far away and he continued to play and record... his last official release being collaboration with his brother, JIMMY, in2002. Now the man's back! Not only is there to be a box set retrospective of his work, but SYL is also working with Australian soul diva MELLOW-D on a project that he hopes will spark a renaissance of real soul music.  needed to know more. We caught up with SYL and began by asking him what exactly he'd been doing since that 2002 album....

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 July 2010 19:04



Friday, 09 July 2010 11:34 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Lenny_smallHaving cut his teeth as a sideman with jazz saxophonist, Jackie McLean, in the late-'60s, native New Yorker and master drummer Lenny White made his recording debut on Miles Davis's epochal jazz-rock fusion album, 'Bitches Brew,' in August 1969. He was just nineteen.

After making his mark with Miles, White played as a sideman with another jazz legend, tenor saxophone titan Joe Henderson, then played on Freddie Hubbard's classic 'Red Clay' LP and after that joined a Latin jazz-rock group, Azteca, for a couple of albums. In 1972, he was asked by Chick Corea to join a new electric version of the band Return To Forever. Alongside keyboard wizard, Corea, virtuoso bassist Stanley Clarke and guitarist Bill Connors (who was replaced after one album by Al Di Meola), White and Return To Forever achieved massive popularity in the mid-'70s with an adventurous amalgam of jazz, classical music and nimble-fingered prog-rock. White enjoyed a parallel career as a solo artist alongside RTF and issued his own rock-infused brand of fusion on albums like 'Venusian Summer' (1975), 'Big City' (1977) and 'The Adventures Of Astral Pirates' (1978). Soul music fans are more likely to know White from his producer's role for acts like Sylvia St. James, Pieces Of A Dream, Bernard Wright, Nicki Richards, Rachelle Ferrell and Tom Browne as well as his work in the '80s alongside bassist Marcus Miller in the Jamaica Boys.

Equally at home in the spheres of jazz, soul and rock, White's new album, 'Anomaly' – his first in a decade – reflects his versatility and musical eclecticism.

Recently in conversation with SJF's Charles Waring, White not only talked at length about his new album but also reflected on key moments in a recording career that to date spans forty one years.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 July 2010 19:41



Friday, 25 June 2010 10:43 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF


youngbloodIn a relatively short space of time PHIL DRIVER'S Cambridgeshire- based Soul Unsigned label has made huge advances. They began issuing EPs on unsigned, indie soul artists; then moved to full albums. After that came critically-acclaimed CDs of music from more established indie soulsters and more recently PHIL has allowed some top DJs to compile alums for the label. Now SOUL UNSIGNED is about to take another giant stride when it releases its first full single artist album. Said artist is CHRIS YOUNGBLOOD and the album's called 'In Love With You'. The set's title cut has already appeared on a Soul Unsigned compilation album. It's smoothly soulful - totally contemporary but with its feet, respectfully in the past. We needed to find out more about the honeyed-voiced MR. YOUNGBLOOD so we tracked him down to his Los Angeles home, where we began by asking him to fill us in on his background....


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