Over the past several months Andrew Roachford’s energized version of Sly Stone’s ‘Family Affair’ has been bouncing all over the place, its long run extended by a number of well-timed remixes from people like DJ Spen and Met Life. Now the parent album is with us and as ‘Family Affair’ and the LP’s title heralded the set is Andrew’s “covers album”. The critical jury has always argued about the merits of these kinds of things. Some say it’s a manifestation of creative bankruptcy while others say, no…. it’s an opportunity for artists to experiment and show what they can really do by offering their interpretation of well-known songs. So, pay your money and take your choice and judge each attempt on its own merits and here, as the re-imagined ‘Family Affair’ proved, there’s clearly some merit in what Roachford’s trying to do. His ‘Family Affair’ (in all its incarnations) was sufficiently different to the original to offer interest; it wasn’t the usual karaoke exercise and throughout ‘Encore’ he continues to try to wring something quite different from the well-known.

Best example is the man’s take on Bill Wither’s ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ which he turns into a loping, bass-driven, up-tempo thing… a lot of miles away from the mournful, melancholic original and other known versions. Sadly, I don’t think it works, certainly not as well as the cover of another Withers’ song, ‘Grandma’s Hands.

By the way, not all the chosen songs are from soul’s back catalogue. Roachford gets to have a go at stuff like Paul Weller’s ‘You Do Something To Me’, Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ and Simply Red’s ‘Holding Back The Years’ which is actually one of the album highlights – probably ‘cos it’s such a great melody and Roachford takes few liberties with it. The track also features some sweet piano fills and indeed throughout the album the live band (sorry no name credits on my version) offer great support.

(BB) 3/5