Reviews

TIMOTHA LANAE; Rewind (Savannah Street)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 22:00 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

TimothaREWINDfrontUS singer and actress Timotha Lanae's debut album 'Red' won huge critical acclaim and for a time nestled at #1 on the UK soul chart. Her track on the wonderful 'Soul Love 2014' compilation won her more fans – all beguiled by her unique and beguiling voice. Her's is not the voice of the stereotypical church-reared diva; rather, Timotha's timbre is reminiscent of Erykah Badu's while her overall soundscape has a peculiar ethereal quality – not quite in the same league as the legendary Rotary Connection, but certainly going that way. Timotha describes her style as "A touch of Jazz, R&B, Soul and Hip Hop too, I mix these all together to make my grooves". Whatever, her sound is unique and displayed at it best on this brand new album, 'Rewind'.

The set was originally slated for 2015 release but interest in it (generated by the lead track, 'Who's That Girl') has led to an earlier "soft" release – with the big promotion push coming in the New Year. 'Who's That Girl' still sounds good and it's a perfect embodiment of where Timotha's at. Lazy and sprawling, it's a classic loose-limbed neo-soul ramble. There's more of the same on 'God', the remix of 'My Man' and 'Be You' which boasts a sweet melodic hook mid way through.

If you like ballads, the interlude that is 'Just One Minute' will fit the bill (but it is just that – a brief minute) though the sensual title track offers more satisfaction.

The album also features two great dancers that will appeal to those of the modern soul crowd who can conquer their antipathy to the vagueness of neo/nu soul. Tunes in question are the ultra tight 'Good' and the finger-clicking 'God Love Music'. The former in particular is as good as any of this year's plaudited modern soul grooves... and if my ears serve me right producer Ben Obi has taken his inspiration from the classic remix of Teddy P's 'Believe In Love'.

To help promote the album, Timotha will be doing an in-store signing @ Putney's Soul Brother shop on Saturday December 20th from 12.30.

(BB) 3/5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 22:10

 

THE GROOVE ASSOCIATION; 3 AM (GAB Records)

Monday, 15 December 2014 20:38 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

groove_aOne of the best current soul compilations is 'Smooth Winter 2014' on T Gee Records (see our review) and one of the set's best tracks is 'Daisy 2-0' from Groove Association. A little research revealed that the sweet, smooth soul groove originally featured on an album called '3 AM' by the aforementioned Groove Association. Further research (a great thing this internet!) revealed that the band is the brainchild of a certain Georgie B (George Bromfield) who some may remember as one of the guiding lights in Brit soul band Second Image.

Georgie has been on the scene for 35 years now and apart from his stint with Second Image, Mr B's also worked with people like Womack and Womack, Jean Carne, Maze, The Weather Girls, Rod Temperton and put in countless session hours all over the world.

In 2011 George started putting Groove Association together and April 2012 saw the release of their debut album, 'Let's Break The Ice' which hit #5 on the UK soul chart. Georgie says that the concept behind The Groove Association is not only to promote himself as an artist, but also to promote other singers, rappers and musicians and give them a chance to be heard. On '3 AM' there's a whole host of guests and though each one brings something different to the party, with the experienced Georgie B at the controls the set has a real unified feel and between them all they cook up a great smooth soul and lite jazzy feel.

First that ultra catchy 'Daisy 2-0'. The song (then simply called 'Daisy') featured on Groove Association's debut album but George always felt it could have sounded a little better – hence the reworking here... and it really is a delight. George knows he's got a good tune here, 'cos he offers a third version.... a "Thinking 'Bout remix"... and it's hard to choose between them; light, lazy, lovely.

That "Thinking 'Bout" thing above is, I'm guessing, a nod to one of the LP's other big tunes –a cover of Skipworth and Turner's 'Thinking About Your Love'. Again we're offered two versions –a tight dance working and one aimed at the Steppers scene. Again hard to choose which is the better!

Other album highlights include the 80s flavoured 'I Want You Back', the sensual duet with Deborah Bell that is 'When A Woman Falls In Love' (a distinct EWF flavour here), the party song 'It's Your Life' (a collaboration with another Second Image man, Weston Foster), the Zhane sampled 'Old Skool Magic' and the instrumental 'Jazz Funk Heaven' which despite its title is, it seems, a tribute to Anita Baker.

In fairness, though, there is so much that is good here that cherry picking is really redundant. Find out more @ www.georgieb.info

(BB) 4/5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 20:03

 

GEDEON LUKE AND THE PEOPLE; Live Free & Love (Monocentric)

Friday, 12 December 2014 10:41 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

glBorn in Memphis but now based in New York, Gedeon Luke is a new age soul man but with his roots firmly in soul's garlanded past. Leaks from this – his debut long player – and choice live and TV appearances have convinced many soul tastemakers that Mr. Luke is one to watch in 2015. Listening long and hard to the 11 tracks of 'Live Free & Love' gives me no reason to contradict those predictions.

The album is set out like many classics of the vinyl era were. That's to say there are two distinct sides. What would have been the old "A" side is dubbed 'Live Free' while the putative "B" side carries the 'Love' titling. And like those old classics, Gedeon and his People deliver two distinct flavours – both united by the artists' passion, commitment and desire to deliver proper soul music.

The five songs that make up the 'Live Free' "side" are raw and unbridled. Full of energy, it seems that Gedeon has dipped his sonic brushes into the palettes of people like Lenny Kravitz, Prince and Sly and The Family Stone. The Sly connection is most obvious on 'Standing On Top Of The World'. It rides in on a deep bass/wah-wah guitar groove as Gedeon introduces The People à la 'Dance To The Music'. 'Hey (That's What I Say)' is another "A" side goodie – more acoustic in feeling with an organic, live feel to it.

The album's "B" side.... the 6 tracks under the 'Love' umbrella.... is more classically soulful and constantly you'll be reminded of a certain Curtis Mayfield – not just in the fractured falsetto that Gedeon assumes but also in the quality of the song writing. The suite opens with 'The Healing' ...a quite lovely thing with sweet layered harmonies though it's bettered by the sombre, melancholic 'Hurting Kind' and the mid-tempo 'Gray' (with a riff reminiscent of Carole King's 'It's Too Late'). Those two and the gentle 'I'll Be Your Friend' will, I'm sure, bring a smile to Curtis' countless fans.

Find out more about Gedeon, his People and 'Live Free &Love' @ www.gedeonluke.com ... you won't be disappointed.

(BB) 4/5

 

VARIOUS: Holland-Dozier-Holland Rare 45s (Harmless)

Tuesday, 09 December 2014 22:24 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

hdhIt's been 45 years since the soul world was taken aback at the news of the departure from Motown of golden boys Holland, Dozier and Holland. Brian, Lamont and Eddie had been with Berry Gordy right through his empire's breakout years. Indeed some would say that without them there may well never have been a breakout at all. That's debatable, of course, but what is certain is that by the late 60s the mighty writing and production triumvirate were feeling undervalued, a little unloved and certainly not reaping the monetary rewards they felt were rightly theirs. Cutting to the chase, they decided to split and form their own label. The legal writs flew here, there and everywhere but there was no stopping the momentum and in a comparatively short space of time H-D-H's Invictus, Hot Wax and Music Merchant labels were scoring the hits.

Over the years those hits (and much more besides) have been re-released in any number of compilations but this new box set of Invictus, Hot Wax and Music Merchant back catalogue is different to any thing that's ever been out before. For a start, this is a vinyl collection and secondly, (and more importantly, I think) none of the recordings that grace the 10 7" singles (20 tunes in all) have ever been released in this format and some (the test pressings and acetates) have lain in the vaults till now.

The quality of the material means it's hard to cherry pick standouts but most serious soul collectors have a soft spot for the Chairmen Of The Board and they offer two great "new" sides. Both 'What's The Use' and 'Where There Is Faith' come from previously unreleased acetates. The former shows off General Johnson's remarkable and unique voice in all its glory while the latter sounds like a long lost Four Tops Motown track. Indeed a lot of the material has that good time Motown feel about it, but I guess that's not too surprising given the pedigree of the producers! Try, though, the Barrino Brothers' 'Trapped In A Love' to hear what I mean.

Amongst the other featured artists are Eloise Law, The Jones Girls, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Honey Cone and a little known outfit called Satisfaction Unlimited. Their 'Why' is a lovely, light little thing – not the sound you associate with Invictus.

Three of the singles feature Tom Moulton mixes; they are vocal and instrumental versions of the Chairmen's 'Give Me Just A Little More Time' and 'Dangling On A String' and Freda Payne's 'Unhooked Generation'. They provide the cherries on this wonderful collection and what a great stocking filler for a serious soul collector.

(BB) 4/5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 22:33

 

LINDA JONES: The Complete Atco-Loma-Warner Bros Recordings (Real Gone/Soul Music)

Monday, 08 December 2014 19:49 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Linda_jones_coverBig-voiced cult soul siren, Linda Jones, died tragically young - she was just 27 when diabetes complications robbed her of her life in March 1972. Fortunately for soul fans, though, the New Jersey singer has left a rich, if small, legacy of recorded music behind for posterity to enjoy. This superlative compilation collects together the sides that Jones recorded for the Atco, Loma  - a short-lived subsidiary imprint of Warner Bros - and Warner Bros labels in the mid-to-late 1960s.

Jones' voice with its dramatic, stentorian tone and rich, liquid torrent of gospel melisma  (she began her career singing in church in a family gospel group) is a magnificent instrument though its histrionic quality might not be to everyone's taste. Having said that, no one can deny the power of her voice and this compilation vividly illustrates that whether she was pouring her heart out into a romantic ballad ('Hypnotised')  or admonishing a fickle, cheating paramour on a stomping up-tempo number aimed at the dance floor ('You Take It'), she always gave 100% in terms of  commitment and made the listener believe every word that she sang. But Jones was much more than a mere soul shouter - sure, she could wail with the best of them but she could also tell a story with deep sensitivity and a nuanced-delivery, as the wistful and hopelessly romantic number, 'If Only (We Had Met Sooner)' and 'The Things I've Been Through (Loving You)' both testify.

The 21 tracks on this set include the complete 'Hypnotised' album  that she recorded for Loma (consisting of eleven tracks and whose title track was Jones' biggest US R&B smash) plus an assortment of non-albums singles and B-sides (including tracks new to CD). Besides the songs already mentioned, the brilliant Motown-esque 'A Last Minute Miracle' and 'My Heart Needs A Break' are worth singling out as is the brisk Northern Soul dancer, 'I Can't Stand It.' Interestingly, Jones' producer and mentor, George Kerr, shares his memories of working with Linda Jones in the set's liner notes, which adds to the appreciation of the music. A fabulous compilation, this - and one that every serious soul historian should get acquainted with post haste.

CW (4/5)

Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2014 19:55

 

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