DIANA ROSS: Last Time I Saw Him (Label: Universal Hip O Select)

Friday, 19 October 2007 05:48 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

DIANA ROSS: Last Time I Saw Him

Universal continue their diligent marshalling of the Motown back catalogue with this limited edition, re-mastered release of Diana Ross' 1973, 'Last Time I Saw Him'. On its initial release the album enjoyed limited success chiefly because it was in competition with the only slightly earlier release of La Ross's duets set with Marvin Gaye. Consequently the LP kind of slipped away which possibly explains why it's getting the 'full' re-issue treatment right now…. And by 'full' I do mean full. What you get her is the original ten tracks LP (fully re-mastered) along with the same album in its Japanese Quadraphonic format and ten previously unissued cuts dating from the same sessions. In honesty the original album was never one of Ms. Ross' best. It comes fro the time when Berry Gordy wanted (or so it seems to me) his diva to take some share of the Barbara Streisand market. The cuts are over-produced and though die-hard Ross fans might argue, I don't think they have much soul in 'em. The Jap Quad versions don't sound too different either, though I have to admit that some of the unissued cuts did provoke interest. 'Where Did We Go Wrong' and a version of the Carpenters' 'Let Me Be The One' prove that Di could 'do soul' while the version of the Motown war horse 'I Wanna Go Back There Again' revisits the old times. Apart from those, I'll pass, but for Lady D fans the set is a must - especially since the inlay is a superb artefact in its own right.
(BB) 3/5


APRIL HILL: April Hill (Label: Soul Brother)

Friday, 19 October 2007 05:46 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

APRIL HILL: April Hill

Over the last few years Atlanta's spawned more than its fair share of great soul talent. The city's reputation stands to be further enhanced with this fabulous new album from April Hill which is set to become one the year's key releases. It's hard to say why the Marlon Saunders' produced 10 tracker is so darn good - but you just know instinctively when something is right. Straight from the off you know the album's going to delight. The opener 'The Search' is a wonderful piece of modern soul music. It's crisp and beaty with a beaut of a melody that Ms. Hill handles laconically in the fashion of say Erykah Badu. Rug cutters will love it - as they will the closer 'No More Tears.' Lyrically it's a cut above your average floor fodder too. And that's another department where the album scores. The lyrics are provocative and intriguing - as on 'Manipulation' - a feisty, song of self-determination. 'Today' is another intriguing cut - chiefly spoken in the manner of Jill Scott , while the jazzy 'You Got Me' might recall Carmen Lundy. Plenty of great ballads too and a wonderful take on Marvin's 'I Want You' on which April dares to be dazzlingly different. Hugely recommended.
(BB) 5/5


ANTHONY DAVID: Three Chords And The Truth (Label: Dome)

Friday, 19 October 2007 05:44 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

ANTHONY DAVID: Three Chords And The Truth

Last year, guitar-toting neo-soul troubadour, Anthony David - a modern day Bill Withers perhaps - won rave reviews in the UK for his sophomore album, 'Red Clay Chronicles.' To capitalise on David's newfound and well-deserved cachet in the European marketplace, Dome have just issued the Georgia singer/songwriter's 2004 debut, originally issued on Stateside indie label, Brash. Though not as accomplished, perhaps, as David's most recent opus, it's a worthwhile release and deserves a wider audience. Here, it's easy to see why the Bill Withers comparisons have been plentiful - David's husky, blues-tinged delivery possesses a slightly conversational, back-woods mannerism that's reminiscent of Withers' laconic storytelling style. Both melodically and in terms of their subject matter, some of the songs - especially 'Spittin' Game' and the bare-boned 'Cold Turkey' - sound like Withers' outtakes from the early '70s. Despite this, David is unequivocally his own man, and has filtered his influences through his own sensibility to produce music that is familiar and new at the same time. The opener, 'Yes,' is one of the strongest cuts, and is distinguished by a subtle jazz shadings, closely followed by 'GA Peach,' which welds some hip-hop-style verses and horns onto an old school rhythmic feel (a la Bill Withers' 'Use Me'). David also ventures into socio-political commentary about racist police with 'Krooked Kop,' though lyrically it's one of the album's weaker numbers. Overall, though, this is a solid contemporary soul album from a singer who seems set to accomplish even bigger and brighter things.
(CW) 4/5


TONY MOMRELLE: Message In The Music (Label: ATS Records)

Friday, 19 October 2007 04:02 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

TONY MOMRELLE: Message In The Music

Tony Momrelle is an UK based soul singer best known for his sterling work with Incognito. Now he's thrown his solo cap into the ring, but to describe this album as a solo effort isn't quite right. Yes, Tony's the lead voice but he shares co-billing with the Austrian based Lungau Big Band - and by big, I really do mean BIG! The massive line up could grace any Cecil B De Mille epic and the resulting music is big, brash and very tasty with Tony's vocal's trading any number of licks with the imaginative band arrangements. Nine of the cuts are originals and it's a measure of Tony's confidence that the two other tracks are big covers from the catalogues of Marvin and Stevie. Momrelle tackles both 'What's Going On' and 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life' with bite and though they both begin respectfully, they build into new creations. On' Sunshine' the flugelhorn of Gerd Rahstorfer adds delightful colour, while on 'What's Going On' the feel's a lot looser than on most of the covers of the classic - but none the worse for that. Of the original compositions, Tony's in Stevie mode again for the ultra melodic 'With You Luv' , while 'Treats Me Good' is a pleasing mid-tempo shuffle. The big attraction here, and indeed throughout, is the live, organic feel that gives the music a real conviction - and isn't that what real soul's all about?
(BB) 4/5


SHIRLEY BROWN: Shirley Brown (Label: Soul Brother)

Friday, 19 October 2007 04:00 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

SHIRLEY BROWN: Shirley Brown

Arkansas-born/St. Louis-raised soul chanteuse, Shirley Brown, made a huge impact in 1974 with her memorable chart topping R&B smash, 'Woman To Woman,' issued on the Stax subsidiary, Truth. A song about an adulterous relationship, it featured Brown uttering a straight-talking monologue to the so-called 'other woman' in a hurtful love triangle. Sadly it was the last hit Stax experienced before the company went belly up due to financial problems. Lured by producer, Don Davis, Brown joined the roster at the nascent Arista label in 1977 and cut this self-titled sophomore album, which included the US Top 20 hit, 'Blessed Is The Woman.' Regarded by some soul connoisseurs as Brown's best album - arguably eclipsing her 'Woman To Woman' debut - 'Shirley Brown' has never been issued on CD before. That lamentable situation has been rectified thanks to Putney's Soul Brother label, which specialises in bringing rare and in-demand soul albums to CD. Remastered from the original master tapes, this first reissue features the original 9-track album - a mixture of soulful ballads and uptempo dancers - helmed in Memphis by Bettye Crutcher and Jeff Stewart plus three non-album 45s which have been appended as bonus cuts. Cult singer DJ Rogers appears as a backing vocalist alongside bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn (of Booker T & The MGs' fame) and keyboardist Lester Snell. All in all, a reissue that soul connoisseurs should savour.
(CW) 4/5


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