Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Gordon Nelson Jr - Whisper In My Mind

This is slightly different to the music we've recently featured. If you loved the soulful dance / House that Colonel Abrams or, say, Todd Terry, was coming up with in the mid '90s, and still get a vibe for recent garage / house jams from the likes of Chez Demier, Rahsaan Houston, Markus Enochson etc then you will also be drawn to the flavours of Gordon Nelson Jr. Almost every track is on a dancefloor tip – something that suits me fine as long as its not clich├ęd, ephemeral or downright chart-orientated. Not all of the album appeals, but the majority of it defiantly gets the two thumbs up from myself. The opening song is possibly the most accessible for the more conservative soulful ear. The beats are not dissimilar from those used by the likes of Richard Rogers, and the keyboard riffs are almost straight out of Keni Burke's “This Dedication”. The feeling is rather a “step” affair, and very good it is too. The second serving, “I'll Be Gone” remains chunky and soulful and we are almost, almost into Gerald Alston vocally and quite nice it is too. Jumping to “Until We See” then, is where the hard hitting drum and snare start walloping in. This is EXCELLENT dancefloor material. Vocally imagine a smooth fusion of Gerald Alston and Billy Valentine, but hooking up with Strictly Rhythm Records! Yes, it really is an odd combination but it works. DJ Bigger once noted that R&B committed “ballad suicide in the late '80s” and, I suppose, led the way for the sewer pipe of urban R&B to drown out any quality that was about. I go along with this to a small degree. Please, give me the ballads, but also let's have some soulful dance. I feel that since R&B cannot provide it due to its confined nature it is Disco's bouncing baby of House and Garage that can best provide it. I would love to hear more material like this – throw in a few strings and a sax and hey presto...soul for the dancefloor! You go, Gordon, you've got my vote! The socially conscious vibe adopted on these grooves also hits the spot, continuing on the racy “Time Goes By” with its subtle and laid-back piano. The jostling “Baby You And Me” breaks this mould, but without taking its eye off the dancefloor or the bass-pins. The use of horns etc in this cut is definitely a bonus, believe me. “Walking In The Rain” is another choice bass-pin rumbler, and vocally Billy Valentine really comes to mind here. The 80s sounding “Changes” almost apes Robert Owen's musical style, if less frenetic and a tad more Salsoul in the keyboard work. The set closes for the day in excellent fashion with a jazzy flavour in “Let's Get It On” – think Norman Brown meets NuYorican Soul and at 7½ minutes does a damn fine job. Great for the dancers and those who are happy to encompass this fine style of music into their soulful listening. Brilliant!

Barry Towler

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