Reviews

THE DRIFTERS: Now, Love Games, Every Nite's A Saturday Nite, There Goes My First Love (Label: 7t's - Cherry Red)

Friday, 19 October 2007 05:59 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

THE DRIFTERS: Now, Love Games, Every Nite's A Saturday Nite, There Goes My First Love

The Drifters are soul institution. Indeed their 'There Goes My Baby' is often cited as the first uptown soul record. However, despite a hugely distinctive sound the group were more of brand than an actual entity. With the name owned by George and Faye Treadwell, who put band members on a salary, personnel came and went with an annoying regularity and it was no surprise that by the end of the sixties the soul hits started to dry up. Then something strange started to happen. In the early 70s several of their old sixties sides became re-issued hits in the UK and the band decamped to Britain to promote them. Led by veteran vocalist Johnny Moore, they packed audiences in the length and breadth of the cabaret circuit and as a result they landed a deal with Bell Records. The label put them in the studio with Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook and between them they concocted a sound that had little to do with the Drifters' US roots, but it was a sound that was hugely successful in the UK charts. Sing-along pop ditties like 'Love Games', 'Like Sister And Brother', 'Down On The Beach Tonight' and 'More Than A Number In My Little Red Book' stormed the hit parade even though the band's line-up remained in a constant state of flux. For those who are Drifters' completists, the Cherry Red people have just re-issued all three Bell albums along with their Arista set, and yes the sound is poppy but it is a rather superior pop - and amongst the albums there is the odd old soul gem - like a great version of 'Always Something There To Remind Me'. So, not to be knocked these albums … somewhere, someone will love 'em.
(BB) 3/5


 

DOMU presents PETE SIMPSON: Look A Little Further (Label: Papa Records)

Friday, 19 October 2007 05:50 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

DOMU presents PETE SIMPSON: Look A Little Further

Domu is the alter ego of UK DJ/producer Dominic Stanton known on the underground dance scene for his soul influenced beats. Here he's teamed up with Reel People's Mike Patto and Jill Scott collaborator Pete Kuzma to craft a tasty ten tracker that won't appeal to the conservative element within the soul crowd (nothing retro here - sorry), but it will attract those with adventurous ears seeking something just a little different. There are some great songs herein, but what really makes it all happen is the vocal of Pete Simpson. Simpson is a Yorkshire lad - buy you wouldn't know it. He's worked the UK gospel circuits for some years, is a key elements of the Unabomber's Elektrons set up and he sounds every bit as soulful as anyone currently recording Stateside. Hear the proof from the off with the opener, 'Don't Hide' - it's a great rumbling tune. Good - but bettered by 'Ain't No Fool' which reminds me (and I can't really say why) of a Rahsaan Patterson dancer - the tasty Rhodes solo is this particular cake's icing… think classic Bob James. Elsewhere, 'Second Chance' is an almost housey shuffle; 'Won't Give Up' has a light Latin feel to it; while the title cut brings the album together in fine style. 'Look A Little Further' draws its lyrical inspiration form the words of Martin Luther King, while musically, the clear influence is Charles Stepney's work with Rotary Connection. It's a complex piece and as I said in opening, this LP's changes and diversity will delight those who want a little controlled, soul-heritage based adventure in their music.
(BB) 4/5

 

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

 

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