Thursday, 09 August 2012 15:47 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

KoolThe Dutch-based reissue label, Vinyl-Masterpiece, has just released on CD for the first time three vintage soul albums – two are from KOOL & THE GANG, the other is a collectible rarity from HEAVEN & EARTH.

'Force' and 'Everybody's Dancin'' were LPs released by KOOL & THE GANG in the late-'70s and reflected a period musically when the band was in transition (just before they entered their successful pop-crossover phase with the addition of vocalist James J.T. Taylor). Underrated and overlooked, they've never been reissued before and should be of huge interest for fans of the band and funk disciples.

Chicago funk and soul band, HEAVEN & EARTH, cut four albums for Mercury during the late-'70s and early '80s. 1979's 'Fantasy' was arguably their best – it features sterling arrangements by Floyd Morris – and contains the classic brass-heavy dance floor monster, 'I Feel A Groove Under My Feet' as well the funk-fuelled groovathon 'Poetry In A Box' and the sweet soul ballad, 'I'm In Love With Your Lady.'

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Thursday, 09 August 2012 09:19 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

Music Club Deluxe continue to release some cracking soul, jazz and funk collections. On offer right now are three very different collections – but each one a real treasure.

annFirst up there a great retrospective on southern soul diva, ANN PEEBLES. There's been any number of ANN PEEBLES collections but this one is outstanding. 'The Original Soul Sister' features 44 tracks across two CDs and all her big tunes are rightly in there along with lesser known items and in-demand album tracks including two songs ('Mon Belle Amour' and 'Waiting') which she recorded with husband and fellow Hi artist, DON BRYANT. With sleeve notes from DAVID NATHAN the album is a fine testament to an underrated soul talent – but one whom JOHN LENNON singled out after being blown away by 'I Can't Stand The Rain'.




bevBritain's BEVERLEY KNIGHT offers a different kind of soul to PEEBLES – but no less heartfelt. You can catch up with BEV'S best on the new Music Club Deluxe set, 'The Collection 1995 – 2007'. The 34 track double CD goes back to the early days at Dome and on through to the big hits like 'Shoulda Woulda Coulda'. Enjoy again things like 'Made It Back', 'Flavour Of The Old School' and 'B Funk' along with remixes of stuff like 'Keep This Fire Burning'. Once again DAVID NATHAN'S sleeve notes offer an accurate and incisive portrait of a lady whose talent and hard work have earned her 3 MOBOS and, of course, the MBE.




dukeThe third new Music Club Deluxe album is arguably the most important – 'Duke Ellington ... The Private Collection'. The album brings together 40 cuts from what's described as ELLINGTON'S own private collection and they cover the years 1956 – 1968. Essentially they are recordings of his own music which ELLINGTON funded himself. He knew that the record companies of the 50s and 60s didn't always best serve their artists and wanted to retain versions of his own music recorded in the way he felt best suited it. Tracks include tunes like 'Sophisticated Lady', 'Harmony In Harlem', 'In A Sentimental Mood', 'I Cover The Waterfront' and 'Satin Doll'. All are stylish and elegant and epitomise the unique ELLINGTON way – at once sophisticated and cool. Every home should have at least one DUKE ELLINGTON collection – if yours hasn't - here's the perfect starter; a worthy introduction to a true 20th century music icon.



Sunday, 05 August 2012 20:31 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

carmelIn the 80s CARMEL McCOURT fronted a successful three piece band identified simply by her Christian name. Based in her home town of Manchester, CARMEL enjoyed three sizeable UK chart hits while their albums garnered both good reviews and decent sales figures. The band had a distinctive sound that used CARMEL'S soulful voice to best effect. CARMEL also enjoyed success outside the UK – most notably in France where the cool, atmospheric vibe they created struck a chord with French audiences. Indeed Ms McCOURT went on to have a big hit in France with 'J'oublierai Ton Nom' – a duet with France's top pop star JOHNNY HALLYDAY... a performance that had French critics making comparisons with the legendary EDITH PIAF.

In the 90s the band effectively split up but during the new millennium McCOURT and bassist JIM PARRIS were back together – touring and occasionally recording material –some of it provided by poet SONIA HUGHES. Now, at last – some 17 years since their last full album – CARMEL have released a new long player and given the back story, it's no surprise that the album is a tribute to EDITH PIAF

The ten track 'Strictly Piaf' is heartfelt homage to the Parisian icon – but the music here is not a straight copy or even a pastiche. Knowing that tackling the work of PIAF would never be an easy task, CARMEL transforms well known songs like 'Sous le Ciel De Paris', 'La Vie En Rose' and, yes, 'Non Je Ne Regrette Rien' into her own form. The recordings are elegant and, in places, chilled enough to satisfy the Café Del Mar crowd. All tracks are full of respectful energy yet they manage to retain the forlorn sprit of PIAF. Sung in both English and French, the songs look back to a great performer and celebrate the work of an innovative interpreter.

The album 'STRICTLY PIAF' is set for release on 3rd September. CARMEL will be playing two concerts in support of the album – 3rd October @ London's Islington Assembly Rooms and 4th October @ Stockton's Georgina Theatre.



Wednesday, 01 August 2012 18:21 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

amenAMEN CORNER came blasting out of South Wales in late 1966. Fronted by the charismatic ANDY FAIRWEATHER-LOW and featuring two horn players, the combo were a cut above your average beat group, proffering, as they did, their own version of American soul and R&B.

RPM Records have just released a wonderful 19 track compilation of all the material they recorded for the Deram label between 1967 and 1968. Three of their biggest hits are included. ... a version of NINA SIMONE'S 'Gin House Blues', 'Bend Me, Shape Me' (originally rerecorded by THE AMERICAN BREED) and 'Fly High In The Sky'. You also get spirited covers of DARRELL BANK'S 'Our Love Is In The Pocket', the SOUL SURVIVORS' 'Expressway To Your Heart '(an early GAMBLE/HUFF song), LITTLE RICHARD'S 'I Don't Want To Discuss It' and (naturally) THE IMPRESSIONS' 'Amen'. There's also a strange take on ELVIS PRESLEY'S 'Love Me Tender' and, being 66/67, some dabblings in phsycedelia.

'Round Amen Corner – The Complete Deram Recording' offers an insightful snapshot of mid 60s British-based pop-soul. ANDY FAIRWEATHER-LOW, by the way, still records and tours regularly. His shows are worth catching – full of soul, blues and his quirky humour.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 18:27



Saturday, 28 July 2012 15:24 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

LennyWilliams_StillInTheGameVeteran soul man LENNY WILLIAMS is about to unleash his brand new album – 'Still In The Game'.... a title which, maybe, takes a sideswipe at the gainsayers who might suggest that the onetime TOWER OF POWER vocalist has put himself out to grass. Far from it... the album's first single –the ultra catchy 'Grown Man' proves there's no soulster like and experienced one! The track is a sweet, rolling mid-tempo confection and LENNY'S in great form while the subtle brass backing hints at those wonderful TOWER OF POWER days


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