Monday, 9 February 2009

Chaka Khan - Funk This

At last! The beautiful and talented Chaka Khan returns with a proper album of NEW songs on her new label, Burgundy Records distributed via Sony / BMG. Those overseeing this set are none other than Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Its been 9 years since the mighty “Come 2 My House” set and it has been worth the wait. This set, for me, is one of contrasts. There is something on here for everyone, and the urban R&B fraternity get a track with the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul”, Mary J. Blige, making an appearance on “Disrespectful” - a song Mary penned herself. However, Chaka seriously does a great job on this crashing and banging late 60s style funky soul affair, and Mary's input appears – to my ears at least – to be kept to a bare minimum. In fact, one cannot really tell if she is on it or not, and is relegated to being a backing support if at all. You will love this song, so don't ignore it. The KILLER has to be “Angel” of the best, most passionate ballads that Chaka has EVER laid down. I love this song to pieces, and again exemplifies that a real singer, equipped with a real song and supported by real instruments cannot be beaten. The early 80s feel of “You Belong To Me” is, again, an essential part of this album, and the Zappish vocoder adds extra spice. The fact that the legendary Michael McDonald shares vocal chores is but the icing on the cake. What an amazing pairing. Let's hope for an album of new material from Michael soon. For lovers of Rufus' funky late 70s sounds, an updated and chunky cuts by the name of “Hail To The Wrong” and “Super Life” will get the juices flowing. Chaka does nought but prove yet again that she is still one of the premier female vocalists of our time. The latter song really has more than a mid 70s funky Stevie Wonder flavour to it thanks to some superb guitar arrangements and scratchy guitar. Another winner is the India.Arie-ish acoustic modern Neo-Soul of “One For All Time”- this will definitely be one to creep up on you and kibosh you when you least expect it. I am very pleased with this album, and am thankful that this great Lady has graced us again with such a set. Apart from Janet Jackson's latest set, Jam and Lewis have not come up with anything which I would describe as “them”, and this album does not break that mould, BUT it is still strong, it is quality and it is warming to see the gents still very much in the game in the year 2007. This was released stateside on September 25th and can be found on iTunes UK as well.

Barry Towler

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