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


RHONDA THOMAS: Breathe New Life (Label: Rhonovocals LLC)

Friday, 19 October 2007 03:58 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

RHONDA THOMAS: Breathe New Life

Rhonda Thomas is an Atlanta-based soulstress and an alumnus of that city's Tabernacle Gospel Choir, where she shared lead with Maysa Leak. Since then she's worked with Incognito, Jiva, Khari Simmons and the Sirius B project and been on the road with Luther and Isaac Hayes. In between all that she recorded this album in 2004 but with a big underground buzz on it, it's being re-promoted. It's easy to hear why the buzzers have been buzzing. Though almost three years old, 'Breathe New Life' is right on the contemporary money. It pairs bright and optimistic cuts with some gorgeous introspective ballads - unified by their thoughtful and mature lyrical profiles. Best of the 'up' cuts is the lithe 'Stand And Know'. It's almost soulful house, enhanced by sweet trombone infills. Biggest ballad is the duet with Alex Latimore that is 'The Matrimony'. Cynics might say the lyrics are cloying, but I say there's nothing wrong with proper commitment and the song is a soulful expression of just that. In between there's lots more to enjoy including the Jiva-esque 'Fly Away' and the jazzy title cut that will recall the best of her old mate Maysa.
(BB) 4/5


RENE JONES: Chill Factor (Label:

Friday, 19 October 2007 03:56 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

RENE JONES: Chill Factor

This sultry debut from Rene Jones demands attention from all discerning soul fans. Hailing from Georgia, Rene had her musical initiation in the church - and it shows. For one so young her voice is mature and soulful - instantly recalling Anita Baker. That Baker link will be most obvious on the album's immediate grabber - 'Everything I Need'. It's a wonderful mid-tempo item with great beats and scorching sax interludes that might remind you of Kirk Whalum. But it's the vocal that makes the cut special. Elsewhere there are plenty of smooth ballads - best typified by 'Sensuality'. Dancers might be tempted off the wall by the mid-tempo title track or the two-step shuffle that is 'You Know'. Other goodies include the light vibe that is 'Summer Day' (with a quasi-rap that may recall Jazzy Jeff's similarly named epic) and 'Stay,' which features some great interplay with the backing singers. Indeed for an indie album, there's been no stinting on the production and the songs aren't the usual self-written, self-produced plodders you often get with this kind of thing. Take my word for it, here's an album and an artist that deserves to be right up there with the big soul players. Find out more on
(BB) 4/5


ONYX 1: Right Now (Label: NL 2 Records)

Friday, 19 October 2007 03:54 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

ONYX 1: Right Now

Onyx 1 originates from Oakland and began life as a Temptations-style group but soon graduated to funk. They recorded sporadically and a couple of years back one of their old funk cuts, 'Break It Loose,' was featured on a very well-received compilation. Encouraged by the good press, the group (Wendell and Aaron Bassey and Malvin Scott) decided to reform but enlisted Detroit's Terence Forsyth as lead - and what a great choice. Forsyth possesses a silky smooth soul voice - a voice good enough to impress Richard Street who enlisted him into his touring incarnation of the Temptations… and I guess that the Tempts are the best comparison to draw. Onyx 1 has now ditched the funk and their aim is to make real grown-up soul music. Hear it to best effect on the ballad that is 'Mine All Mine' - sweet, yet with a real soul edge. It's so good in its original incarnation that the R&B-ish remix towards the end is redundant. Other goodies include the opener 'It's Time For Love', the melodic 'When You Weren't Looking', and the jazzy title cut which feature great piano from Jimmy Ali. All are gentle and mid-paced and should please sophisticated soul people and smooth jazz fans alike.
(BB) 4/5


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