Sunday, 15 February 2009

Curt Jones - 360 Degrees - 2007 - Red Virgo

One of Soulchoonz' readers requested this SUPERB 2005 release be reviewed so here it is! We all know and love this gentleman, so he really needs no introduction. His work with Slave in the late '70s, and Starlena Young as Aurra and Déja in the 80s were impeccable as far as this scribe is concerned. Curt can turn on a sixpence and deliver a hot funky dancefloor groove one moment, then offer us a devastatingly sensual ballad the next. Not many artists can do this, and as I always say it is in the ballad arena where the boys are separated from the men. On this excellent CD, if further proof be necessary, Curt Jones does exactly that and prove he is no boy! Importantly, Curt's vocals are still of a very high quality. In fact, on may cuts I am seriously reminded of Walter and Scotty Scott from The Whispers. I also hear echoes of the genius of Marvin Gaye, too. Indeed, the opening track funks us in a 70s Gaye / Ware “I Want You” groove, peppered with a dash of guitar for good measure. The album is worth the asking price for this track alone. However, for these ears it is not the best cut on here! Yes, the CD is that good. In fact, it was “Seasons” which grabbed my attention in a BIG way. This gorgeous ballad has a classic 80s sensibility; the deep bassline and keys are supported by a haunting synth line, and Curt's vocals are seconds to none. “Seasons” represents the style of soul music that I really identify with and would love to hear more of. “Is It?” has received a lot of play on Richard Searling's radio show which is where I first heard this CD.

Many more youthful artists should listen to this album as it is an education in music crafting. What we display here is the best sensibilities of the 80s with the foundation funk from the 1970s, but firmly rooted in Y2K. It is this fantastic musical amalgam that makes this album so delicious. The ballads continue apace with the gorgeously relaxed and simple “Someone Like You”. This really does hit the spot. Again, I can hear The Whispers doing this. The excellent toe-tapper “Stay And Lay” will also impress, of that I have no doubt.We are not half way through and already we have FIVE essential 'must have' tunes. You'll not be surprised to know that the quality does not stop there, but if it had I would not be complaining! “I'll Be Around” is a very pleasant bubbler but I feel is surpassed by the superb “Never Take Your Love From Me” which features an old friend, Monte Moir, on a blinding fender rhodes solo. So, we know this is going to be a classy, classy, track. Take it from me – it is. “Full Circle” is chilled, bass-driven and unashamedly more-ish. This is another song that gets many plays here at home and in the car. Curt really does propel his vocals on here and really does show how good he is. Musically, I am reminded of Art Maddison on the equally tasty “Spend Some Time”. The 80s feeling is definitely here and the Marvin influences are more than welcome. “Is This Love?” at almost 7 minutes is yet another composition of which Curt can be proud. The intro at nearly one minute allows the keyboards to do all the talking and then ably sets the table for the guitar, percussion and Curt's cool voice to serve up a really smooth treat. We've had quite a few guitar flavours on here, ranging from rocky, funky, acoustic and within the tapestry of “Somebody's Loving You” we have a sweet Latin serenade. There really is no end to this gentleman's talents and I think its a crying shame that we have had to wait so long for a solo set. It rates as one of THE albums that you should have in your collection from recent times.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

Buy the CD from CD Baby