The Average White Band is Scotland’s finest soul export. Tunes like ‘Pick Up The Pieces’, ‘Cut The Cake’, ‘Atlantic Avenue’ and ‘Let’s Go Round Again’ are, despite being over forty years old, still vital… great tunes from a great band! True classics, and occasional looks at gig guides will tell you that AWB are still recording and touring. Of course over such a lengthy life span there have been numerous personnel comings and goings and we’re informed the the “original AWB brand” is currently being kept alive by founding members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre. Good on them! However three other original “bandsmen”… Hamish Stuart, Steve Ferrone and Molly Duncan are again working together and, dubbed the 360 Band, they’ve just released their debut long player… and the nine tracker is a lovely return to the brassy, classy, groove-laden soul sounds on which AWB built their reputation.
‘Mighty Fall’ is the album’s lead single and, sonically, it sets the tone for the whole album… slinky, and jazzy, it oozes soulful quality and like many of the great soul and funk sounds of yesteryear it comes in parts 1 and 2…though radio programmers will be delighted to know that there’s a radio edit too. If they need more incentive to play the tune then they’ll also need to know that the song is the trio’s homage to the 20th Century’s greatest sportsman, Muhammad Ali- “a man with a mission”.
It is a great tune but our favourites at the moment are the album’s two mid way tracks… ‘Some Other Time’ and ‘Too Hip’. Both are jazzy, brassy meanders that betray the experience that the trio has under their collective belt!
Elsewhere ‘Loose Change’ is a bit if an oddity… a sort of funk and reggae hybrid; ‘Cherry Blossom Time’ is sweet and smooth while ‘Just For A Thrill’ is a throwback to a whole different era. That song was written way back in the late 30s and is probably best remembered in its Ray Charles’ version (check out the Bill Wyman/Georgie Fame version too). Here, 360 give it a sort of early (“authentic”) R&B feel…. lovely stuff.
Helping the original trio deliver are Steve Pearce (bass) Adam Phillips (guitar), Ross Stanley (keyboards), Andy Caine (guitar & vocals), Jim Watson (keyboards), Danny Cummings (percussion), Tom Walsh (trumpet and flugel), Neil Sidwell (trombone) and Hamish’s daughter: Emma (backing vocals) and between them they concoct a quite lovely album… proper grown up music. If you like mellow moment Tower of Power, Van Morrison… oh, yes and the Average White Band, you’ll love this!