Category: Forgotten gems

If the superb interlude ‘Astral Projection’ from Adriana Evans’ current album ‘Walking In The Night’ was a true reflection of astral travel in its purest form, then I guess that would be quite an experience! I have had it on good authority in the past that astral travel is not an experience that is truly beneficial to the spiritual development of man. However, on the basis of the gentle groove that the Soul songstress delivers here, I have to 100% agree with my man Soul Jones when he describes it as…… ‘a soulful piece of vibes-led magic’!



Back in early 2010, I reported some news that came in via Defected Records that futuristic funk, dance and soul music artist and producer, the prolific Osunlade, had re-launched his Yoruba Records with a slew of classic releases old and new, under the new Yoruba Gold moniker. These releases were available via the usual outlets, by way of Defected Records. If you missed them then, here’s your chance to re-acquaint yourself with the super-talented maestro! Investigate!

Hello good people, I’m going to have to throw away my objective reviewer’s hat for the next half hour or so, as I once again bask in the soulful glow of this wonderful album that was released back in 2005 – and you’re going to have to forgive me for doing so! I’m going to allow myself the luxury of waxing lyrical like never before, first because I love this project for all the right reasons and second because the music is that good and deserves glowing praise.

Metropolis! Metropolis! Metropolis! What a beautiful album!

The brainchild and debut release of super-producer Dee Majek, former CEO of Mapp Records USA and a good personal friend of yours truly, “The Voyage” is exactly what is says – a true voyage back to the good old days of quality soul and R&B music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, but with a very contemporary twist. It’s the album you would have expected Eric Benet to release as a follow-up to “A Day In The Life”. It is choc-full of grooves, dance-floor jams, beautiful mid-tempo burners, without a single filler track in sight, out of the 19 or so tracks that make up the album. Unlike a lot of sets that tend to fold after about 6 or 7 songs, the very high quality of the music is maintained throughout. A rare feat these days on the R&B music scene!

The timing of release of such a good album could not have been better for the group at the time, as Metropolis could have stepped into a large vacuum created by the absence of quality male soul “groups”, except for a few exceptions like Mint Condition, Boyz II Men and perhaps Jermaine Dupri protégés, Jagged Edge. There are so many tracks to choose from, and selecting a personal favourite becomes a nigh-on impossible task. But if my hand was twisted, I’d have to list ‘Soul Train’, ‘Lovin’ You’, ‘Drunk Love’, ‘Found You’ and the list goes on. The pace is slowed down a tad towards the end, as the album closes off nicely with the Marvin-influenced ‘Time Of Your Life’, the chilled ballad ‘Watching You’ and the 80’s sounding ‘Be My Girl’. Without question, one of the classic forgotten R&B albums of the year 2005.

Now, if this album has no pride of place in your collection so far, do yourself a favour and hunt it down!

I’m reminiscing and remembering the day a few years ago when I received the news from David Nathan at Soul Music, that the first (9) volumes of the official SOUL TRAIN DVDs had become now available from Time Life! As many of you, who like me, grew up watching these fantastic series will also know, Mr Nathan has been a shining star on the soul music scene for the past couple of decades and he wrote the liner notes for each of the DVDs, featuring enduring performances by the legends of soul music – including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Barry White, The Jacksons, Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass and many more! These should still be available via the usual online outlets – and David created a link at The Soul Music Store, so you can probably still order your complete set – or individual volumes here

Huge thanks to Ray Hayden at Opaz for sending me a copy of Martine Girault’s new album promo sampler – just at the time when I was wondering what was going on with one of my favourite “daughters of Soul music”. From the moment the sampler dropped into my hands, I just couldn’t stop playing ‘Can’t Leave You Alone (Remix)’. That track still takes me back to the 80’s with fond memories of all those familiar elements of vocoder synths and backbeats, with Martine’s sweet delicate vocals dripping gloriously over the top. On this promo package, she also has the bravery to put her own perspective on Omar’s evergreen classic ‘There’s Nothing Like This’. You know that saying: If it ain’t broke….

For me, this was an interesting development on many levels. Firstly, it was the very first time anyone anywhere had attempted to cover this classic. Secondly, the attempt involved one of the UK’s own and best loved music producers in the form of Ray Hayden of the legendary OPAZ Studios in London. Last but not least, the singer is none other than Martine herself, who is one of London’s own adopted vocalist and daughter, by way of Brooklyn New York/Haiti.

It has to be stated even now that Martine stays true to the original vision behind the song and yet brings an added Latin feel to it, while retaining its original Jazz-loungey groove. In the chorus, she sings with an innocence and yet a fullness that brings a smile to your face. As cover versions of classic tracks go, it remains an excellent effort.

Most importantly, she does not fall into the temptation of totally dissecting the original in some radical fashion in order justify the decision or to develop a sense of having achieved something extraordinary. That is a temptation which might have befallen a less-versed singing and production combo than these two. And in that sense, they are forgiven for daring to take on the challenge – and thankfully they do it justice.

And just in case you still don’t know very much about the singer I’m talking about here, check out her classic signature tune Revival

Martine on MySpace