S.O.S. BAND: ‘Sands Of Time’ (Tabu)


Reissued in a 2-CD expanded format and presented in tasteful, deluxe, gatefold packaging is arguably the finest and most consistent long player by the S.O.S. Band. ‘Sands Of Time’ was the Atlanta soul and funk aggregation’s sixth album for Clarence Avant’s Tabu label and followed on from ’84’s ‘Just The Way You Like It,’ the second of the band’s albums featuring production and writing input from former Time members, Jimmy ‘Jam’ Harris and Terry Lewis. That album and its predecessor – ’83’s game-changer album, ‘On The Rise’ – had boasted some excellent Jam & Lewis-helmed sides (which usually ended up on the first side of the vinyl LP) but were both let down by weaker non- Jam & Lewis cuts on the album’s B-sides. ‘Sands Of Time’ had more input from the former Time duo (they produced six cuts themselves and executively produced two S.O.S. Band tracks) and consequently the album has much more consistency and focus.

‘Even When You Sleep’ is a mellow, mesmeric, opener led by Mary Davis’ inimitable husky vocal while the set’s title cut is a sublime duet ballad, where Davis trades vocals with Abdul Ra’oof. The driving ‘Borrowed Love’ spotlights Davis on her own again, as does ‘Nothing But The Best,’ a minimalist electro-soul groove. The album’s centerpiece is one of Jam & Lewis’ best ever song: ‘The Finest,’ a tantalising mid-tempo groove driven by a crisp beat and featuring the most infectious of hook lines. Tabu labelmates Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle make a cameo on the song’s memorable bridge section. Following this is the propulsive Minneapolis-style dancer, ‘No Lies,’ and two decent cuts produced by the band themselves – the hazy jazz-funk of ‘Two Time Lover’ and the mid-tempo groove ballad, ‘Do You Still Want To.’ A brief reprise of the title cut rounds off what even today comes over as a very impressive piece of work by a band that would shortly afterwards lose one of its chief assets in the shape of Mary Davis, whose distinctive smoky vocal tone was one if its most alluring features. A second CD features a plethora of rare and collectable acappella mixes, 12-inch dubs, extended versions and edits of the album’s various singles.

(CW) 4/5