I guess that title and artwork can only hint at one thing, the 1994 skating controversy between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. Wrapped in a funk rock concept, the bands guitarist and principal songwriter Ben Halperin explains “among other things, ‘Nancy versus Tonya’ is really about dreams versus the reality that dreams rarely come true”.
Being a concept album with musical roots, sometimes there are songs within a song. And since the band manage to melt rock with funk and soul, while also utilizing various lead voices (male and female), the result is diverse but always melodic. Having a horn section only adds more colour to the proceedings. A bit of a mix from early The Tubes with The Blues Brothers, yet with ladies on the mic.
The result is an album that not only showcases a lot of talent within the band, it also means we have an album that gets better with every play.
In a time where lots of popular music is rather bleak and formulaic, a band that is able to shine from both a lyrical as a music point of view, deserves to find a large audience. Bravo!
Another album that has been playing for quite a while here at YMB HQ, is the debut from NYC band Peak. Consisting of Jeremy Hilliard on guitar/ vocals, Otis Williams on keys/ vocals, Eric Thachuck on bass and on drums Dale Paddyfote, who is replaced by John Venezia for live shows. Hilliard is the main songwriter.
What is really nice about the album, is that it is an obvious melting pot of influences that may seem far fetched, yet the band make them work. Think of funk, blues, fusion, dance music and rock. Or as Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan and Chic having a coming together, wooing the crowd with a vibrant mix of songs, sounds and beats.
Yes the album moves around with the various tracks. But when it is over, I cannot help but think that it was a damn fine listen that just made me feel good. And upon listening closer, it is also clear that underneath all those positive vibes, is a band that knows how to play and treats you with little musical accents and arrangements that show their ability.
So if you should need more prove that it is possible to create independent music that is easy on the ears, sounds good, is suited for a large audience, and is still filled to the brim with class musicianship, look no further.
This is the sophomore album by singer and trumpeter Ellis Williams. And before you click away, I urge you to stick around and continue reading. Self described as a jazz funk album, to me this is much more than that. In fact I am tempted to say that any lover of music will find something to his liking on it.
Yes, in a lot of songs the trumpet rules, but in all honesty you completely forget about that. Not because it is tucked away on a few spots. No, the trumpet is used to maximum effect here. It can be the vocalist singing nice melodies. It can be a player soloing away. Often parts are doubled or even tripled, with counter melodies and all.
And talking of vocals, Ellis sings too, and not half bad either. In fact I love his voice, a lot of soul in it, and he really reaches out.
The songs are very varied, exploring many genres in between them. Jazz and funk yes, but also rock, pop, soul, the list goes on. And the good thing is, it never sounds far fetched or in-cohesive.
For me an album that deserves a huge audience. Real music from a guy that puts his heart and soul in it. I am very impressed, so please go check him out!
I bet it is safe to say that many readers will never have heard of the Dutch band Blowbeat. Except maybe if you are a musician and grew up in this neighbourhood. Which is quite a shame as I feel that Blowbeat are a great band with one of the wittiest lyricists (still) around amongst their ranks. Who also happens to be the principal songwriter, singer and guitar player. As well as the guy responsible for teaching me my first steps on the six string.
So now mister Ton Engels (that surname translates to English…) has decided it is time for another turn in his lengthy career and crafted a fresh batch of his delicious songs. Influenced as always by funk, rock, country, pop and a dash of blues and fusion, Mister Inglish is a bit of a pimped Blowbeat if you ask me. Why pimped? Well, there are keyboards (amongst other a great hammond), female backing singers and some other instrumentalists joining in on the core of the band that, besides Ton, consists of various Blowbeat members. And all these guys are killer musicians!
But hey I don´t mind what I have to call it. As long as I get songs like Fan Mail (great riff and groove), Skeleton or Visit The Spot (does humour belong in music?). Or any other track actually, they are all well crafted and executed to perfection. It has bugged me for years that these guys are not big, no matter in what corner of the world (besides ours, here they are household names, ehr, in my house anyway) so I am happy to point you to this album. Make sure you buy it!
Most of the time I am running late with my writings. But lately I seem to be going ahead of time. Yet never so far as in this case, the Super African album by Sila. And that is not all, I actually believe it is the first time I write about an African (Kenya) artist, or about an album that is fuelled by funk and Afro beat. As I am sure site regulars will understand, funk is not a territory I am overly comfortable with. But as I think it is important to be open minded about music, I approached this without caution and just went for it.
And you know what, I cannot deny that this is very tasteful music. Sometimes reminding me of Prince (before all that nonsense with name changing and all), James Brown, or Fela Kuti (which is in his biography, I honestly can´t tell). Arrangements are rich, with a lot of brass and even the odd guitar solo, besides the usual suspects of a groovy rhythm section, crisp keyboards and (undoubtedly sexy) backup singers.
So even if this is out of my comfort zone, I did not mind listening to this and I am quite sure a lot of people will dig this big time for it has a lot of hit potential. Still you will have to wait till August, because that is when it becomes available to the public. Quite the scoop eh 😉
Something strange just happened to me again. While this is not my first Richie Kotzen album, every time I buy another one I realize I should buy all of them. Such is the effect that this music has on me!
Known to some for being the guitar player in Mr. Big after Paul Gilbert’s departure, mister Kotzen also has a long solo career to his credit. And while he first came to the public eye as a shredder, on every album I own, he proves not only to be a very convincing singer with a lot of soul in his voice, but also a guitar player with a brilliant warm tone and capable of giving every song what it needs to shine.
His music is rock, with often funk and soul influences. So yes, his albums tend to be a mixed affair, but the genius he is, is just too good to ignore. So this is easy as good as other stuff I own. I just dig that feel! And if you are not afraid of rock spiced up with some funk and soul, than this is surely something to check out. Love it!
Before they were propelled to global stardom with Under The Bridge, the Peppers already were delivering some damn fine albums. In fact this is the CD that got me interested in the first place, and it’s a lot heavier than later albums. Despite featuring a number of covers, RHCP demonstrate convincingly how to mix funk and metal, adapt everything into their own identity and get a party going during the process.
So if the heavy opening track Good Time Boys won’t get your adrenaline pumping, then Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder) will. Unrecognisable in this rendition, but oh so enjoyable! Subway to Venus focuses more on the funk part, complete with a blistering brass section. Nobody Weird Like Me features another bass line only Flea can get away with. And the song really lives up to it’s title too… Knock Me Down is another must have. Again the bass and guitar cross bridges to different genres. Okay, some tracks I could have done without (Magic Johnson), but the good easily outweighs the bad.
Nobody knew at the time what the boys would have to endure on a personal level, but I for one still follow their career closely as they really wrote several albums that deserve the ‘classic’ tag…
The last couple of years has seen Glenn Hughes picking up on his career with a lot of output and quality. And as all people who follow him know, he loves to rock, like he likes to funk. Some records do both, some just plain rock and others tread heavily into funky waters… No pun intended.
And as one can guess on the abbreviation of this album title, here he funks it up again. Yes folks, the Voice of Rock still like his grooves! And while that is something not everyone is into, for the more open minded this is still a side of Glenn that is synonymous to funked up songs with an unbeatable groove, melodies as catchy as honey, and carried by that golden voice. And thankfully he still lets the guitars do some work as well…
Supported by, among others, his “brother” Chad Smith on drums (who of course is no stranger to this type of music), Glenn lets us enjoy 11 songs on this album. Which is light on rock and heavy on funk. But the man knows what he is doing. Nice touches with brass occasionally, this is again an addictive set. A lot of feel here, not unlike his album with that same name. Like I said, highly addictive stuff that sucks you in until you are so sweaty from dancing your body just says stop!
Personal play tips: Crave, Imperfection, Never Say Never.