Monday, 9 February 2009

The Embers - The Show Must Go On

Have you recently pulled out an old, cherished, LP from the 70s / 80s and said ruefully “they don't them like this any more”? Well, I know I have said that on many occasion, here they are – the legendary Embers – to remind us that, in fact, there is still REAL soul being made. This is, my friends, the real deal. As a writer, rarely can I say that no words I write could ever do this CD justice, but on this occasion, it is true. Here we have real singing, live orchestration, lush strings and brass, and all produced in masterly fashion by producer Charles Wallert. I have not been so excited about an album in this way for some time, and it is on constant rotation at home and in the car. The album is a vibrant mix of scintillating ballads and tasty midtempo numbers. The more uptempo songs are a wonderful fusion of recent outings from both the Main Ingredient and the Chestnut Brothers. Indeed, the vocals seriously echo Cuba Gooding in places. Furthermore, by way of helpful comparison, I would say that one of my favourite periods of music was 1983 – 1984. Then, Columbia spent a lot of time and money on their artists, and if songs such as Rodney Franklin's “Love Is The Answer”, Philip Bailey's “It's Our Time” and Ramsey Lewis' “Midnight Rendezvous” are as much of your very essence as they are mine, then this CD is a must-have.
The Embers have not scrimped or cut corners on this set; not one bit, thank you very much. A lot of time, money and love has been invested, and boy it has been worth it. “Lovin' On Borrowed Time” hits the spot from the very opening and does nothing but get better and better as it progresses. The strings are pitched just right, and the old goose-pimples begin to rise on my arms almost instantly. “This Heart” is a Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter penned song, and is just exquisite. Those God, this is what Soul Music is all about! LOL. The following song, “Never Give Up” gives the illusion, at first, of being a little MOR. Do not be fooled! If that can't tempt you – and I am certain it will – then the Tower Of Power-ish brassy number “You're The Reason” will definitely get you going. If you want a comparison to Brotherly Love / Chestnut Brothers “Travelin' On” then here it is. The title song is another corker and if this is not a track that would fit Cuba Gooding like a velvet glove then nothing is. The track that absolutely reduced me to a gibbering wreck was “Not So Long Ago”. As I write this the song is playing and I am going cold. The piano, the strings and the haunting lyrics. Such a beautiful, beautiful song. “Makin' Love To You” is another killer. In fact, I have to say that EVERY track is a KILLER. “The Show Must Go On” is surely one of the best albums of 2008, if not THE album of 2008. As such it needs to be pride of place in your collection.

Barry Towler

Buy on CD-Baby