The late Arthur Lee and Love (the band Lee led & fronted) remains one of the most under-rated bands from the 60s/70s. Well, at least compared to their peers. Already well-documented is the fact that the likes of Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) were massive fans of this ground-breaking iconoclastic band. Certainly, the backward gazing bands of the 90s British indie scene owed a thing or two to Love.
One of the most freewheeling eclectic 60s bands, Love (which also included guitarist-songwriter Bryan Maclean, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, bassist Ken Forssi & drummer Michael Stuart) were never constrained by genres or styles and dabbled in folk, baroque pop, psychedelia, acid rock and even proto-punk (check out “7 and 7 Is” is below).
Not only that but the band can lay claim to producing one of the bona fide rock masterpieces of all time – the magnificent Love Changes.
However, due to drug problems and internal disagreements, the band’s commercial success dissipated in the late 60s, with Lee fronting a new set of musicians, but this incarnation of Love never garnered the widespread acceptance or acclaim of the original group.
Reel to Real was Love’s final official album and until now, has never been issued on CD! By the recording and release of this album, Love was essentially Lee with an assortment of session musicians but despite its marginalisation in rock history, deserves serious re-examination.
Not least for its daring coverage of a multitude of styles, despite its primary focus being on soul, R&B and blues-rock, one could imagine the young Prince, Lenny Kravitz or Terence Trent D’Arby listening to Reel to Real and copping one or two musical ideas.
Whilst modern pop fans would probably find themselves grooving to soulful gems like “Time is Like a River” and “Stop the Music”, alternative rockers might take a shine to off-beat numbers like “Singing Cowboy” and “You Said You Would”, which sound like Hendrix channeling Buck Owens! And that last song – “Everybody’s Gotta Live” – is the Lennonesque anthem Noel Gallagher wished he was smart enough to rip off!
The new reissue has rather illuminating outtakes which on occasion outshine the original tracks with their spontaneity and raw energy. There’s also a sloppy studio rehearsal of that classic Forever Changes outtake “Wonder People” for all your Love completists out there.
Let’s say it plain, LOVE LOVE LOVE Dru Chen’s songwriting. He seems to come up with these soul-inflected pop ditties so effortlessly that it’s almost criminal!
“You Got It Babe” finds Dru once again putting together yet another winner. Trust me when I say that once this groovin’ earworm hooks you, it is not gonna let go too easily. Diggin’ Dru’s old skool soul vibe once more! Check it out!!
Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. (W. E. Studwell and D. F. Lonergan, The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from its Beginnings to the mid-1970s)
So yeah, rock came from 40s/50s rock ‘n’ roll, which in turn is a form of pop music. So even The Carpenters or ABBA is rock, by that definition. So I am always comfortable to use the terms “pop” and “rock” fairly interchangeably, and get rather annoyed by the insane categorizations that is now so common.
In that light, let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of pop music, I am confident to label as ROCK!
Tim De Cotta (Bass/ Vocals), Audrey Tengkey (Piano, Keys and Synth) and Teo Jia Rong (Drums) make up TAJ, bringing forth an exciting new venture, and great contribution to Singapore’s contemporary jazz scene.
Now the above (from the Darker Than Wax press release) sums it up pretty well. 70s jazz fusion lovers (with emphasis on ‘fusion’) will dig TAJ’s debut EP – The Astral Journey – for its grooves, virtuosity and attitude. Followers of old school soul-R&B-funk will thrill to the authentic spirit behind songs like “Taj Yo’self” and “Old Town MOFO”, not to mention the dreamy title track that demonstrates so much emotional resonance, it’s hard not to fall in love with Audrey Tengkey’s fingers… and the sultry vocoder-ized vox on “Daydream”. Too much sexy. Something for everybody here! Get in!! Now!!!
But of course, we wanted to know more about the folk behind the awesome music and so I present to you… TAJ, in their own words…
How did the band get together?
We got together by chance actually. It was 2012 when Tim and Audrey went with the Singapore contingent to MIDEM in Cannes, and through rehearsals for this showcase Audrey and Tim got to know and like their musical styles in their respective bands. So when they came back Audrey invited Tim to an open jam session at LaSalle with other young musicians and students. It was a shed session to just have fun and also to try new things. Drummers, keyboardists, bassists and turntablists even. So JR was one of the drummers there and as the jam went on, it was clear that the chemistry between the 3 of us whenever we were on our instruments together was really strong! We didn’t just jam the songs per se but we moved and evolved them in a matter of minutes. So eventually, we started meeting more and more often, till it became just exclusive to the 3 of us, jamming covers and then eventually writing our own music. It happened very naturally and faster than usual, also because we became great friends. TAJ was born and on 1 Oct 2013, we released our single “The Astral Journey”.
What’s new this second week of the year? Let’s check in with Spotify, shall we?
MARK RONSON – UPTOWN SPECIAL
Fairly old school soul in tone from the British famed producer. Actually though the album’s introductory track was a rip off of Stevie Wonder, when it’s the man himself. Doh! Probably the hipster-est release this week.
There’s much to admire on this new EP from Micah Olsan & the Many. According to his bio, “Micah has been an active performer in the Midwest music scene for the last seven years. His diverse songwriting takes folky storytelling, interlocking guitar parts, and passionate, soaring vocals and places them smoothly on top of a funky, jazz and world-infused rhythm section. Micah’s writing draws on influences from Paul Simon to Radiohead and the Talking Heads.”
Certainly, tracks like “Trouble” and “All Around” will appeal to the punters who love trawling blues-rock pubs with the songs’ authentic roots demeanor. One to consider. Check it out at Bandcamp.
Eia (aka Maria Grace Koh) has just finished her studies at LASALLE College of the Arts, where she graduated with First Class Honors in a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts – Music, Vocals and her calibre is self-evident on her soulful new single “That’s the Way” off her upcoming new album. The Bruneian singer-songwriter worked with Marc ‘M. Doc’ Williams (Madonna, Kelly Rowland, Jordin Sparks, K-Ci & Jojo) and C-Ray (EMI Music Publishing, K_Ci & Jojo) of Indasoul Records on her new material and fans of modern R&B will love what Eia has to offer. You can purchase “That’s the Way” at iTunes.
Check out a live performance of “That’s the Way” below.
Aysha Amani, the frontperson of infectious Aussie funk-soul-hiphop combo The Amani Consort was so easy and fun to talk to as she (together with keyboards player Gordon Cant) answered my questions about the band – past, present and future. Listen to the audio for the full details! (Sound quality is a little rough but I hope you get the gist of what was going on – lots of laughter!)
We promise to be back with a review of The Amani Consort’s Better Way EP pretty soon! In the meantime, connect with the band over at its Facebook page.
It’s funky & groovy in a understated way. To these ears, there are elements of Prince & Mayer Hawthorne embedded in this slab of coolness. Oh yeah, it’s Dru Chen’s latest single “Turnaround” now available from Bandcamp. Go. Get!
Here’s a sweet, catchy and soulful fuck-off song from the ever-smooth Mark Bonafide. It’s pretty short too, clocking in at 2:53! That’s my only issue with “Issues” (ouch!) – I wish I could get MORE of its goodness! Nice interplay with Kim Olsen and Zahidah provides a riveting contrast. Taken from the forthcoming e.p. “LOVE/REBEL” it seems – can hardly wait! Check it out!
Chicago quintet Great Divide (Teddy Grossman – vox, guitar/Josh Teitelbaum – drums/Jeff Leibovich – keyboards/Josh Kahle – bass/Jeff Burke – guitar, vox) takes the rock and roots maxim to its logical conclusion. If a cursory listen to the band’s eponymous sophomore album suggests to you The Band, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tedeschi Trucks Band and the like, then you’d probably be better off exploring Great Divide, don’t you think? Yeah!
Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Great Divide is a evocative, soulful rock n’ roll record in the old fashioned way. In other words, it is as smooth as you like, bringing together a veritable buffet of influences, spanning soul, folk, country, pop and rock with the dynamic horn section providing the proverbial icing on top.
First-rate musicianship, competent songwriting and the honey-dripping pipes of Teddy Grossman make Great Divide, essential listening for the true-blue pop-rock fans out there. How can one argue with genuine articles like the slick opener “Ain’t No Roads”, the lush “Easy Chair”, the gospel-tinged “Moorie” and the Stevie Wonder-channeling “Shine”? Simple, you don’t!
Modern Soul singer-songwriter Dru Chen will be on tour in Singapore and Malaysia from March 8 to March 17 to launch Intentions EP. Successful lead single “You Bring Out The Best In Me” (http://youtu.be/LGi6Q5WsvtM) has been played on Australian radio stations Southern 88.3FM, Triple R 102.7FM, Joy 94.9FM and is looking to hit Singapore radio/blog soon. Dru Chen will be performing 8 shows, radio spots and filming 2 videos during this trip, including collaborations with Charlie Lim, Kerong Chok, For This Cycle, Charles J Tan and an appearance at Mosaic Music Festival.
Here’s your chance to catch Sarah Cheng-De Winne live as she delivers her soulful pop music with her deep, sultry vocals.
The showcase is open to the public, as long as you bring a physical copy of Sarah’s album that you have previously purchased, or you can purchase a copy at the venue (one per person). Check out the album sampler below.
This is so infectious it should be illegal! Seriously!! I first saw Dru Chen at an open mike years ago and was deeply impressed with his swagger and innate soulfulness BUT this new single from the Melbourne based modern soul singer-songwriter exceeds all expectations. I mean, “You Bring Out the Best in Me” should be blaring out of every single radio station in Singapore. Be warned though, once that groove hooks in, you’re in trouble. Awesome.
There is a nice balance of pop sounds and styles in Sarah Cheng-De Winne’s new album. Previously categorized as a jazz-folk-pop singer, this single-minded lady (and her production team) has done a bang-up job in taking different strands of the pop milieu and incorporating the same into her own distinctive soulful pop brand.
It’s not often that I come across a sound that is unique and different but this track from London band Waves of Fury certainly qualifies! Imagine the classic post-punk sound (The Fall, Echo & the Bunny men) performed by a Stax-Motown group from the sixties (Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles)!?! Off the album Thirst, this is one to keep a close eye on. Review to come, folks.
These words were not far from mind when watching English singer-songwriter James Morrison in his full pomp at the Esplanade Concert Hall on the night of 2nd October. In an era where pop idols come across as fake, studied and pre-fabricated there is a genuineness about Morrison that is hard to ignore. This honesty in purpose is communicated by his uncanny revocation of old skool blue-eyed soul and by his amazing larynx. Backed by a group of competent musicians, Morrison was able to focus on doing what he did best – sing – and connect with his audience with his boyish charm.
What does iconoclastic, unique, artistic white soul-funk truly sound like, you might ask? Well, in 1976, David Bowie slipped into the Thin White Duke persona to deliver the Station to Station LP, from which the single “Golden Years” was issued. This sinewy funky composition is built on a descending riff of F#-E, a jarring and distinctive progression that pricks your ears. The chorus resolves itself on a stable tonic platform of D-Bm before teasing and releasing with a closing G-C-A-F#-Bm-Em7!
Bowie appeared on the Soul Train TV show (allegedly drunk!) to promote the single, although he managed to lip synch his way through the track competently enough. Check out the video below.
Now, the introduction to “There Is No Love” swept me literally off my feet, my heart melted and chills ran down the length of my spine. No mean feat. I’m talking about the second track on Charlie Lim‘s amazing debut eponymous EP that was released sometime last year. Better late than never eh?
I make no apologies for being a lover of ‘old-school’ pop music cuz ultimately it’s about substance and not mere form. Pleased to report that bands like Red Jacket Mine, which focus on 80s-styled soul, country, blues, rock, and pop (think: Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Style Council, Hall & Oates) are still out there, if you know where to look!
Red Jacket Mine has already released two studio albums (including 2009′s Ken Stringfellow-produced Lovers Lookout) and currently consists of bandleader Lincoln Barr, longtime drummer Andrew Salzman and bassist Matthew Cunningham. “Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)” is a brilliant slice of soul-infused pub rock that bears repeated listening.
So check out this surrealistic music video for Red Jacket Mine‘s new 7″ single and please send them your love, okay?
According to the publicity blurb on the DVD jacket, the concerts featured in this DVD have been lost for 50 years and just newly discovered. Which is certainly a boon not only for music fans but also historians. Filmed at the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival in France, this DVD features the legendary Ray Charles in his prime.
Covering two sets on 18th and 22nd July respectively, Charles is backed by the original Raelets and run the gamut from jazz to gospel, from the blues to rock ‘n’ roll. Charles himself is the consummate musician, equally comfortable with solo piano as well as singing, there is no denying the genius of the man and the tremendous influence over the popular music of the decades that followed.
The visuals are in sparking black and white, with choice audience shots edited together efficiently. The sound is pristine and Charles performs some of his greatest hits viz. Let The Good Times Roll, Georgia On My Mind, Hallelujah, I Love Her So and What I’d Say. On the last track, it isn’t difficult to see the impact that Charles had on the likes of The Beatles, for example.
Of course, this is 1961 so there is none of the flash or the glamour of modern day live spectacles but none of this diminishes the power and soulfulness of the musicianship and showmanship. Utterly essential for all pop scholars.