Original Drizabone man, Billy Freeman (aka Billy April) reconstituted his group a couple of years back with the new name ‘Drizabone Soul Family’. He wanted to show that the group were moving on from those heady days of ‘Real Love’ while the “family” thing indicated a togetherness within his new team that had never existed before. The ensuing album ‘All The Way’ came out on Dome Records and was warmly welcomed by fans and critics alike – many of ’em weaned onto soul with stuff like ‘Pressure’, ‘Brightest Star’ and, of course, ‘Real Love’. Those fans and critics will, I’m sure, be delighted that Freeman and his new Family have re-recorded ‘Brightest Star’ for this, their new long player – released on their own label. The song was always a good ‘un and here it shines above the other 11 cuts.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with those other 11 tunes, it’s just that ‘Brightest Star’ is exceptional and, of course, brings with it sack loads of great memories. Billy appreciated that and doesn’t meddle or change things; so this “new” version faithfully recreates the magic of the original. The other standout here is the album’s title cut. It’s a steady soulful builder that allows singer Shniece McMenemin to show what she can do. Elsewhere the album’s stuffed with good time pop/soul that seems to have been crafted from an old Motown template. Most obvious example is the pulsing ‘Too Young’ which uses the drum and bass patterns from Smokey’s ‘Going To A Go-Go’. If you check out our interview with Billy (see our “Interviews” page), you’ll discover that he denies any plagiarism; he’s also adamant that he and drummer Stuart Russell weren’t going for an Amy Winehouse sound on ‘Sell My Soul’. You have a listen and make up your own mind.
For those who like their ballads there’s three good ‘uns – the soulful ‘After A Lie’, the gentle ‘But You’ and the seemingly Minnie Riperton–inspired ‘Summer’s Day’. They add variety to a great pop/soul collection and with Billy promising lots more in the future, the old Drizabone fans can be well pleased.