Now here’s a turn up for the book! You may know a little about comic book/rock band Kiss; you may also know that their co-vocalist and rhythm guitarist is Paul Stanley – he of the white face make up and platform soled boots! Well, what you might not know that Mr S is a soul man at heart. He says “Long before I ever heard the great British bands, I grew up listening to Philly Soul, Motown and so much more. I was lucky to see Otis Redding and Solomon Burke among others. That music and its storytelling gave me strength and hope even in some tough days. The great classics of that era are magical medicine for most and I felt myself drawn back to that era for some sorcery I think we could all use.”
To that end Paul put together a big soul (15 pieces!) aptly called Soul Station and for some time (as circumstances allowed) they played small venues in the US and Japan to, it appears, ecstatic reviews. Spurred on, Stanley and Soul Station put together an album… ‘Now And Then’ and it’s a remarkable affair. The 14 tracker consists of band covers of nine classic soul songs and five originals. The venerable oldies are ‘Just My Imagination’, ‘Let’s Stay Together’, ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’, ‘Ooh Child’, ‘You Are Everything’, ‘Baby I Need Your Loving’, ‘Ooh Baby Baby’, ‘La La Means I Love You’ and ‘The Tracks Of My Tears’.
Stanley and his team do a great job on these well-known tunes. They take few liberties, keeping close to the original templates with just the odd guitar solo on things like ‘You Are Everything’. Of course, staying close to the original versions begs the question, “Why bother?” Well, c’mon, these are all great songs, and they can stand re-recording time after time. In many ways these covers remind me of the Tower of Power album ‘The Great American Soulbook’.
So, what about the Soul Station originals. They’re all new songs but, of course, they draw their inspiration from soul’s golden age. So, for instance, ‘Whenever You’re Ready’ seems to take Tammi and Marvin’s duets as the reference point, ‘I Oh I’ has a distinct Northern soul flavour while ‘I Do’ uses the Philly ballad palette as its basis.
Stanley and Soul Station have done a great job here. They’re helping to keep the soul flag flying high and his words up top are spot on. In these tough times classic, well-known songs do offer reassurance, comfort and down right pleasure. Soul Station’s ‘Now And Then’ ticks plenty of boxes! It will be available from March 5th.