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"It's the greatest high in the world" - DUKE FAKIR talks about the FOUR TOPS' forthcoming UK tour with The Temptations

Saturday, 21 April 2018 12:29 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF



The mighty Four Tops scored their first British hit way back in 1965 with 'I Can't Help Myself,' a key record that helped to establish Detroit's Motown sound in the UK. Fifty-three years and thirty-four UK charts hits later, miraculously, this legendary vocal quartet are still going strong. Though only Abdul 'Duke' Fakir remains from the original line-up, they keep the authentic spirit of Motown alive. Frequent visitors to the UK since their very first tour in 1967, the Four Tops are due to return to these shores later this year in November, when they will be performing in tandem with another iconic Motor City vocal group, The Temptations. For fans of both groups and Motown, the keenly-anticipated tour promises ten magical nights of nostalgia in places ranging from Glasgow and Gateshead to Bournemouth and Southend-on-Sea.

Ahead of the tour, the Tops' main man, Duke Fakir (pictured second from right above), is waxing lyrical about the United Kingdom and its inhabitants. "It's our favourite country," he says. "It's such a great place coming over there and we love the way they reward us and respect us." In terms of what the group will be serving up to their British fans, Duke says: "We aim to please so we'll be sure to give them all the best of the things they love to hear. It's the finest tour of the year for us when we come to the UK. We know they want to hear the classics and we'll also be sure to do some tunes that are more popular in the UK than they are here in the US."

The Four Tops have been combining their talents on the road with The Temptations in Britain for many years now. Though they used to be fierce rivals at Motown, beneath the competitiveness lie deeper bonds of kinship and brotherhood. "We're very good friends and have been for a long time," says Duke. "Years ago, we used to hang out after the shows. We'd bounce around and have a few drinks here and there but now we're older and we save our energy pretty much for the stage. So when we're on the road together, we eat a lot of meals together and sometimes play cards and if it's warm enough, we'll play golf as well. Sometimes we even shop together. Myself and Ron Tyson of the Temptations are extremely close and are particularly into clothes shopping and like to go to Bond Street."

Joining the Tops and Tempts on this tour is another noted US vocal group that was big in the '70s, Tavares. "They're a great group," says Duke. "They have a couple of golfers and we have a couple of golfers, and we've done that a couple of times. So we try to make the trip very, very comfortable and enjoyable. They add to the competition so you have to totally be at your best every night, which totally rewards the audiences 100%. You have to enjoy what you're doing because every night is extremely important and it's not just a gig to get through or what we call a 'hit and split.' It's going out there and doing a job for the people ...but it's fun!"

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 April 2018 12:57



Friday, 20 April 2018 07:17 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


After all the hullaballoo surrounding the announcement of a rare UK tour scheduled for June 2018 by Motown legend, LAMONT DOZIER, the singer/songwriter has announced that due to health reasons (which haven't been disclosed) he won't be coming here after all. While this development is profoundly disappointing for soul fans, the good news is that Lamont has rescheduled his tour for next year, in February 2019.

Via his concert promoter, AGMP, Lamont gave a written explanation:

"To my friends and fans, I regret that I have to postpone my trip to the UK and my performances this coming June due to medical advice. I was very much looking forward to being there with you all, and giving you my best.

 Please accept my humblest apology, as I work on getting my health back to where it needs to be, and will look forward to seeing you at the rescheduled dates. With love and respect, Lamont."

Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2018 07:26



Monday, 16 April 2018 18:36 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


With only two weeks to go until 2018's Jazz FM Awards, which will be held at Shoreditch Town Hall on Monday April 30th, it's been announced that two jazz icons - UK vocal legend Dame CLEO LAINE, and US guitar virtuoso and multi-Grammy winner, GEORGE BENSON -  will both be honoured at the ceremony. Dame Cleo will be the recipient of a PPL Lifetime Achievement Award while George Benson will pick up the Impact Award gong.

Commenting on her award, Dame Cleo said: “It is an incredible honour to be the recipient of this year’s PPL Lifetime Achievement Award. Jazz continues to amaze me every day and I feel privileged to have been able to spend my life performing around the world and sharing music with many wonderful people. Thank you very much to Jazz FM for recognizing my work.”

Much-admired US jazz singer, Cecile McLorin Salvant, who's been nominated in two categories -  International Jazz Artist of the Year and Album of the Year - is set to perform on the night,  accompanied by the Jazz FM House Band led by UK pianist and recent Sony Music-signing,  Ashley Henry.



Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2018 08:22


THE LOVE TRAIN'S BACK IN TOWN - Eddie Levert talks to SJF about the legendary O'JAYS' one-off London gig in July

Sunday, 15 April 2018 09:02 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


One of the best-loved vocal groups of the 1970s, the mighty, much-garlanded O'Jays are synonymous, of course,  with the Philadelphia sound, an urbane and sophisticated style of R&B where soul and funk grooves were dressed up in opulent symphonic orchestration. Though they started out way back in 1959, it was in 1972 when the O'Jays joined Gamble & Huff's groundbreaking Philadelphia International label that the trio originally from Canton, Ohio,  hit the big time and became a global force, racking up hit after memorable hit in the shape of 'Backstabbers,' 'Love Train,' 'I Love Music' and many, many more.

Like their contemporaries, The Temptations and Four Tops, the O'Jays have been working consistently during the last six decades and are still going strong today. But unlike those two illustrious groups, who can only boast one founding member each, the O'Jays actually have two charter members on board - Eddie Levert and Walter Williams. Ahead of the trio's forthcoming show in London's West End at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - where they'll be performing on Sunday 15th July -  SJF's Charles Waring talked to Eddie Levert (on the right of the above picture) about the group's imminent UK trip and their storied career.

Talking to me from his home in sunny Las Vegas, our conversation starts off with Levert asking me about the British weather. He chortles raucously when I tell him he'll probably need to bring an umbrella with him in July. "I love going over there because it's the only place I know that serves beans with breakfast," he laughs. While the prospect of having baked beans with a traditional "full English" palpably excites him, on a more serious note, he remarks that the UK remains a hard market for the O'Jays to crack - and it perplexes him. "We recorded a live album over there back in the '70s, 'The O'Jays Live In London,' which did very well for us, but we've never quite been able to really bust or break into that market," he says ruefully.  "Our popularity there is not as great as it is in other places and other parts of the world. I don't quite understand that because we get a lot of requests from people over there. They say, 'come back to England, come back, we want to see you,' but I'm always disheartened when we get there as the places are not really packed out."

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 April 2018 09:41



Friday, 13 April 2018 13:44 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


London's Putney-based soul, jazz, and funk specialists, SOUL BROTHER RECORDS, are celebrating Record Store Day (on Saturday 21st April) with a couple of limited editon releases via their own label.

They're reissuing JARROD LAWSON'S self-titled debut album from 2014 on vinyl for the first time and are also pressing up an exclusive 45 of Mary Clark's cult track, 'Take Me I'm Yours.'

For these and other special Record Store Day delights, go to:

Last Updated on Friday, 13 April 2018 13:56




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