Sunday, 18 January 2009

Wee - You Can Fly On My Aeroplane 2008 / 1977 – Owl Records

OK, bit of an about turn here. I've been reviewing new albums that sound old, but here's an old album that sounds NEW! This gem has been reissued on CD here in the UK and was originally a 9-track LP on the tiny Owl imprint out of Columbus, Ohio. Here it is reissued in all it's former glory and then some! Stretched to 19 unmissable tracks, this album is a real must. Wee is the pseudonym of Norman Whiteside and is an absolutely essential slab of soul from 1977. The set, best described as smooth, sexy and synthy is known as a peerless sprawling concept album. It was certainly ahead of it's time and if you caught a track on the radio I guarantee you could be easily fooled into thinking it was a new Tony Toni Toné CD. All songs, without exception, are excellent. My only gripe is the title which could almost come from a kiddies' sing-along CD but don't let that put you off. I'm sure Rod, Jane and Freddy can get down if they really want to! Lol. Anyway, joking aside - the opening cut, “You Can Fly On My Aeroplane”, is very much in tune with what Norman Connors was doing at the time with his “This Is Your Life” album but the production sounds like 2009 and NOT 1977! Vocally I am reminded of Raphael Saadiq – though more rich and mature.

The amazing “Leave You Alone” cannot fail to impress either – again very much what we expect today. The synthy, spaced out “Put It In Real Good” sounds superb and fits in perfectly with recent sets such as Nick Van Gelder's “Choose Music”. “Find Me, Love Me” is one of my chief favourites. The track summery and very hook laden and, again, feels like a new Tonies track. Fans of the wonderful Xantoné Blacq will appreciate “Try Me” - which was releases as a limited single – in 1976. Oh, but my favourite of favourites has to be “Teach Me How” which is simple feel-good summertime soulfulness captured on CD. The quality of all these songs, it has to said, puts most – if not all - reissue labels to shame. If a reissue is legit there is NO excuse for not using the master tape where it exists. This sounds so damn fine, clear and...brand spanking new! More brilliance exudes unashamedly from “Stay” and “Trying To Tell You How I Feel” which has a slight Isleys feel courtesy of some stunning organ and acoustic guitar work. Again, “We Should Get It Together”, has lots to offer and should the Tony's “If I Had No Loot” be your bag, check out “Do You Know”. Quite Stevie Wonder a la Innervisions to in my honest opinion! I get a feeling that this is a limited press, so don't be a Silly Billy and miss out. Quality evergreen soul.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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