Monday, 13 March 2017 18:58 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altROD McKUEN is the latest songwriter to be afforded an album in Ace Record's excellent "Songwriter" series.

Born in California in 1933, McKuen endured a tough childhood before becoming, in the 60s and 70s, a lauded arts all-rounder... TV presenter, movie actor, composer, singer, poet and songwriter and here Ace presents a 25 track selection of his best songs performed by artists across all kinds of genres.

Soul is represented by Nina Simone and Dusty Springfield who offer 'A Single Woman' and 'If You Go Away' respectively. If you know the songs ('If You Go Away', of course, is a reworking of a famous Jaques Brel song) you'll know that they talk of despair, loneliness, desire and nostalgia. Indeed the very themes that constantly recur in McKuen's poems and songs. It was this ability to frame plainspoken, emotion-laden lyrics that made McKuen the best selling poet in America. His 1972 poetry anthology 'And To Each Season...' alone sold over 8 million copies and though the traditional, college-educated establishment scoffed at his work as trite and populist, McKuen did understand the difficult knack of connecting with the emotions of ordinary people.

Other artists featured on this snapshot of McKuen's songs include country star Waylon Jennings ('Doesn't Anybody Know My Name'), Glen Campbell ('The World I Used To Know'), Petula Clark ('The Wind of Change') and Frank Sinatra. Indeed in 1969 Sinatra recorded a whole album of McKuen songs and from the set ('A Man Alone') here you can enjoy 'Lonesome Cities'.

There are also a couple of cuts that feature McKuen's own gruff vocals while you also get Jaques Brel's wonderful 'Les Amants De Coeur'... not Soul Music, of course, but so "soulful".

LOVE'S BEEN GOOD TO ME; The Songs Of Rod McKuen is out now on Ace Records.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 19:16



Sunday, 12 March 2017 18:41 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altFor the last several weeks the soul scene has been in thrall to music from London soul man EVERETT (ex member of 90s group Syndicate). The buzz is all around  very tasty four track EP, 'First Night'. That lead cut has been getting played out everywhere, ticking all the boxes that need to be ticked if a tune is to be deemed an anthem.... this one is!

The remaining three tracks on the mini album are the smooth and slinky 'Cool This Out', the romantic 'Closer' and the pacey dancer 'Break The Rules'. All good 'uns, but my money's on 'First Night' to be the one that stays the 2017 soul course.

The good news is that the Everett 'First Night' EP is now officially available from a record store near you or from your fave download portal. It's on Karlito Productions/i2 Recordings

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 18:45



Sunday, 12 March 2017 15:51 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

altJONI SLEDGE, mainstay of SISTER SLEDGE, died on Friday, 10th March. She was aged 60 and reports say that she was found unresponsive by a friend at her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She had not been ill and the cause of death is unknown. Her death was announced via the Sister Sledge Facebook page: "Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We are saddened to inform you that our dear sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin, Joni passed away yesterday. We miss her and hurt for her presence, her radiance, and the sincerity with which she loved and embraced life."

Joan "Joni" Sledge was born in Philadelphia in 1956. He mother was an actress, her father had appeared in Broadway musicals and her grandmother was an opera singer. Hardly surprising, therefore that she and sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy formed a group, Sister Sledge in 1971.

In 1975 they enjoyed moderate success with 'Mama Never Told Me'. However when they teamed up with Chic main men, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, their career took off. With Kathy as lead voice, they scored with 'He's The Greatest Dancer', 'Lost In Music' and, of course, 'We Are Family'.

As the appeal of disco waned, Sister Sledge's hit rate slowed down and they unofficially disbanded, later coming together from time to time to perform and record. By 1989, Kathy decided to try a solo career and the Sisters then worked as a trio. A recent highlight of for them was singing 'We Are Family' for Pope Francis in 2015. It's not recorded whether he took to the floor!

Joni Sledge is survived by her adult son and she last performed with the band in October

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 16:02



Saturday, 11 March 2017 17:16 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBack in January we introduced you to MUSIC FOR ROBOTS, or as they sometimes prefer MF ROBOTS, They're a "new" soul band with an old schooler at the helm.... JAN KINCAID from the wonderful Brand New Heavies.

Their debut single, the Jacko-flavoured 'The Night Is Calling' (with a lovely lead vocal from Dawn Joseph) won loads of airplay and now the momentum on the track picks up as a new mix of the song becomes available.

Mr Kincaid himself is behind the new tweak which is dubbed "Jan's Quality Control Mix"... and, yes, it's a quality re-tooling. All those years in the BNHs have sure come in useful! It all looks s good for the Robots album which is promised this summer.


Last Updated on Saturday, 11 March 2017 17:22



Saturday, 11 March 2017 17:12 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBrooklyn's NICOLE WILLIS won an army of fans with her 'Tortured Soul' album back in 2013. That was followed by the equally well received 'Happiness In Every Style' from which 'One In A Million' became a modern soul favourite. Released on Timmion Records, Nicole was backed on both occasions by the so, so solid Soul Investigators who provided proper old school backing.

For her latest outing, however, Ms W seems to have left the band behind. She's about to release a 6 track EP on which she's backed by Jimi Tenor and Jonathon Maron.

Tenor has spent the last two decades creating an eclectic music that combines electronic and afro-jazz styles. He has his own label, Sahko Recordings, and he's collaborated with the likes of Tony Allen and Kabu Kabu. Maron is known for his unique bass playing. He was the bassist on Maxwell's classic 'Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)'. His list of collaborators includes Meshell Ndegeocello, Tupac Shakur and Norah Jones and soul anoraks will know that the pair were in the Repercussions, who worked with dear old Curtis Mayfield.

On the new 6 track EP, which is released on Nicole's own Persephone Records, there are essentially two songs.... 'Big Fantasy (For Me)' and 'Tear It Down' but they come in full edits, radio edits and instrumentals... so, 6 tracks. Soundwise, things are very different to Ms Willis' last two long players. Her people are calling the sound "disco funk"... ad you can see where they're coming from. There are plenty of big booming beats and Nicole's voice is tough and uncompromising. File under "interesting"

NICOLE WILLIS, JIMI TENOR & JONATHAN MARON - BIG FANTASY (FOR ME) / TEAR IT DOWN released on 12" on Persephone Records on 17th March.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 March 2017 17:22


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