THE ALL STARS COLLECTIVE: All About The Music (Label: Specific Records)

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The All Stars Collective are just that – a loose ensemble of top musicians who’ve played around the UK soul scene (live and in the studios) for more years than most of ’em would care to remember (that’s if they could!). Their numbers include Guy Phethean, Mark Mondair, Randy Hope-Taylor, Matt Clackett, Klaus White and the equally redoubtable Hamish Stuart and Jim Mullen. Add to them a stentorian phalanx of vocalists of the calibre of Jocelyn Brown, Mary Pearce, Julie Payne and Roy Hamilton and you know we’re talking serious soul here. Musically the crew cook up a sound that combines mellow moment Tower Of Power with prime time Incognito – garnished with ‘A Love Of Your Own’ period Average White Band – not surprising given the presence of said Mr. Stuart as overall producer. That said, though, in places the All Stars’ music sounds nothing like any of that. Case in point is the closing track – ‘Time Will Tell’. This one’s a semi-acoustic indie-folksy-rocky provocative cut that questions the sense of war – but it’s not doomy and gloomy. Those adjectives don’t fit into this band’s palette – by and large their music is big, joyous and life-affirming. For proof go straight to the bubbly opener ‘Sometimes’ – brash and brassy, it’s a delight … rivalled by the lovely ‘Hey Listen Up’ – which just about shades it as the LP’s best cut. Clearly Hamish and the boys had just been listening to Donny H before cutting that one. Other goodies include ‘Remedy’ and ‘Satisfied’ and though I could’ve done without the reggae-based ‘On My Mind’ I know that people who dig James Hunter and John Mayer will connect with it. To check out this excellent album (which again proves that when we put our minds to it UK musicians cando soul”) go to
(BB) 4/5