BLUES REVIEW 3-21-23
Various – Record Kicks 20th Rare Box Set (Record Kicks)-Record Kicks is an Italian Milan-based independent record label set up in 2003 by Nicolò Pozzoli (aka Nick Recordkicks) and specialized in both new and vintage black sounds: deep funk, soul, northern soul, afrobeat, rocksteady, dancefloor jazz. Still releasing 45 singles and sharing some of the best music on the planet, Record Kicks has just released their celebration of 20 years in business rare box set. Kicks selected 20 of their best and most rare recordings for this compilation including music from the Dojo Cuts, The Dibbs, Calibro 35 and many more. If you want rare Jazzy-Soul music, this is it!! The Cd starts off with the Dojo Cuts, a 6 piece funk band from Australia, “Easy to Come”. A great jam with the amazing voice from lead singer Roxy Ray. The Diasonics, Moscow funk band, a mix of cinematic funk, instrumental hip-hop and soviet psychedelia is the next song “Andromeda”. Reminds me of some 70’s sci-fi film soundtrack, a great synth instrumental. Calibro 35 is a cinematic funk Italian band formed in 2007 in Milan and the band has released seven albums and several movie soundtracks. They have two releases on this Box Set, “Stainless Steel”, a great action filled soundtrack of horns, synth guitar and that 70’s sound. The second on this CD is “Ungwana Bay Launch”, cool outer space adventure through funky Martians!! Soul sensation Hannah Williams has crossed from gospel ensemble leader to deep funk and motown lead singer and also has two cuts on this boxset, “I’m a Good Women” and “The Affirmations”. Another Italian band that specializes in Ska/RockSteady/Soul, also has two cuts on this CD, “Catch That Teardrop” and “Toxic”. Off beat, funky Caribbean soundtrack comes to mind when I hear both of these. So much unusual music on this CD that I can’t say is Blues, but so entertaining. I think my favorite is “Kokolo – Soul Power”. It’s a neat “James Brown kind of instrumental, listen here. I really like this CD and will be going through more of the Record Kick’s catalog for more gems, I will give this a 4 in blues content and a 9 on music content.
The Cash Box Kings – Oscar’s Motel Vacancy (Alligator Records) – Now this is the Blues!! The group, co-led by real-deal Chicago blues vocalist and songwriter Oscar “Mr. 43rd Street” Wilson, and Madison, Wisconsin-based songwriter, harmonica giant and singer Joe Nosek, plays masterfully raw, unvarnished, old-school ensemble blues. Wilson’s huge, emotive vocals and Nosek’s blistering harmonica fuel their razor-sharp original songs and always incisive reinvention of obscure blues classics. This sends you back to the days of Hound Dog Taylor, Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf era of jump blues. The band is tight, the vocals are authentic and solos are so tasty and not flashy. The first song, “Oscar’s Motel” feels like we are listening to Howlin’ Wolf telling a great story of having a good time! Most of the song’s on this CD are written by both Wilson and Nosek, but their cover of the 1952 Muddy Water’s Tune, “Please Have Mercy” is so good, harmonica is off the chain! Such a legitimate Jump Blues CD from current musicians with old world feel, I think my favorite is “She Dropped The Axe On Me”. Listen Here. This gets the covenant 10 in blues content and a 10 on music content.
Kendra Morris – Babble (Karma Chief) – A New York based Soul Singer with 3 other albums out, releases this 2016 CD Babble. Definitely a Soul Album, Kendra has a soft gentle singing voice that can push the envelope at times and a mix of wonderful musicians through out this collection of songs. Lots of synthesized music on every song, but it works well with Kendra’s voice. Definitely not my cup of tea for music, but you have to really appreciate the production value of all the music. She falls somewhere between Micro-korg Wave Play and Valerie June’s voice quality. I doubt I listen to this again, but it was great to hear this very talented singer that has been on a few movie and TV show scores with her music. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think her last song on the CD, “Ride On” is probably my pick, Listen Here. I will give this a 1 in blues content and a 7 on music content.
Taj Mahal – Savoy (Stony Plain) – So first of all, Taj has a voice that would be entertaining reading food ingredients off the Mac-n-cheese boxes. If you don’t know who Taj is you need to get out more. He has been playing music for over 60 years, primarily a bluesman but has also dabbled in Jazz and world music. This album pays tribute to Harlem’s famous Savoy Ballroom that made history as one of the first racially integrated public spaces in United States when it opened its doors with a no-discrimination policy in 1926. In the early 20th century, Harlem housed a predominantly Black community, including those who migrated from other parts of the U.S. and the Caribbean. This community’s impact was prevalent throughout Harlem, as the neighborhood thrived as a site for creativity and culture—and the home of the Savoy Ballroom. Although a white-owned institution, the Black community of Harlem made the Savoy the cultural heartbeat of the neighborhood and an epicenter of innovation for swing dance and music worldwide. The Savoy’s twin bandstands hosted seamless live music as many of the world’s acclaimed jazz musicians—including the likes of Chick Webb, Count Basie, and Ella Fitzgerald. This CD covers some of those great Jazz moments with Taj’s wonderful voice and backing band. The cover of the famous Don Redman composed “Gee Baby, A’int I Good For You” (Billie Holiday song) is so good with piano and horns playing so lightly. Filled with many famous standards, “Summertime” version done by Taj is probably my favorite cover of this iconic song. And who has never heard the famous song “Sweet Georgia Brown (written by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard, with lyrics by Kenneth Casey) and Taj’ does an amazing job of covering this. Whimsical piano licks and violin in full force lead. So many great standards covered on this CD including “Lady Be Good”, “I’m Just A Lucky So-And-So” and my favorite “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, Listen here. I will give this a 8 in blues content and a 10+ on music content.
Stan Mosley – No Soul No Blues (Dialtone Records) – Stan Mosley has been performing music for over 48 years, starting off singing in church (as so many great singers do) and then forming a soul group in the 1980’s. Took a short break from Soul to pursue Christian Music for a while only to get back to the Soul Roots by the 1990’s. Stan has 10+ recordings out on the market, but this latest CD is considered one of his best. Incredible Voice backed by a full band with B3 and Horns makes this mix of originals and covers very special. Considered Soul, but to me it has lots of Blues incorporated throughout this album like the songs “Losing Hand” , Undisputed Love” and “Right Next Door” (song written by Dennis Walker made famous by Robert Cray). The rest of the songs are very strong southern influenced Soul songs that are done with lots of great lyrics and amazing music (especially when the backup singers chime in). Here is a live concert by Stan, you really get his showmanship and ability on stage, listen here. I will give this an 8 in blues content and an 8 on music content.
Reviews done by Juke Jackson, so don’t blame the station!!!