For a while in the mid 90s Jodeci promised to be the future of the whole soul group genre. Then, for all kinds of reasons things started to go wrong till eventually one of the pairs of brothers that made up the foursome (K-Ci and Jo Jo Hailey) broke away to enjoy success as a soulful duo. This brave, double CD attempts to tell the whole Jodeci/K-Ci and Jo Jo story via 24 songs – with a round dozen devoted to each of the aggregations.
CD 1 looks at the work of Jodeci and the opening salvo is taken from their wonderful debut set – 1991’s ‘Forever My Lady’ and the section naturally includes the biggie ‘Come And Talk To Me’. From ‘Diary of A Mad Band’ we get some great love songs – ‘Cry For You’, ‘What About Us’ and ‘My Heart Belongs To You’. ‘Feenin” is in there of course, along with a passionate live version of Stevie’s ‘Lately’ on which the template seems to be Boys II Men. On it – and indeed throughout – it’s self-evident that the boys were all brought up on gospel and you’ll hear the justification for my opening sentence.
There’s even more gospel-drenched passion on the 12 tracks from K-Ci and Jo Jo. The ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’-sampled ‘Wanna Do Right’ is particularly emotional and a real throwback to the vocal values of the classic 60s soul masters. The brothers even manage to wrench plenty of emotion from Babyface’s ‘Down For Life’, while if you like tight, little beaters – don’t forget ‘You Bring Me Up’ whose sound kind of defines a moment in time. Sadly there aren’t any sleeve notes, annotations or commentary to accompany the album. Maybe we should accept that the music speaks for itself. To some extent it does of course, but I can’t help thinking that the whole era and that special sound deserves something a little more comprehensive – or at least more thoughtful.