Monday, 23 February 2009

Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It

This album is not for the feint hearted. I heard this album and almost – almost – pinched myself. The only thing that indicates that this is not some lost 60s soul classic is the fact that Raphael Saadiq is the vocalist. Although I am not overly impressed with the man's vocals (never have been), I have to say that this album really does suit him down to the ground. His “Instant Vintage” album was – bar 2 songs - nothing of the sort and was way too Hip Hop / Homeboy for it's or anyone else's own good but what the man has done here is craft a very special album which will impress MANY conservative and die-hard soul fans. How will those diehard 60s fans who cannot see past 1969 take this set? Musically it is EXACTLY what they love but it's 2008...would love to be a fly on the wall. That'll get the talcum powder puffing! Lol. Every track is superbly crafted in a 60s format – even down to an authentic mono 8 track sound at no more than 3 or so minutes in length. Saadiq has removed all the histrionics from today's major label lunacy and has pressed the soulful reset button.
Fans of Motown, Money, Stax etc are going to love this – as long as they are not imprisoned and blinkered by snobbery or dogma. I hope that there is going to be a turning of the wheel, a fresh look at R&B in America. Like the prodigal son, the music has strayed far too wayward from it's home and it's time for it to come back home, pride swallowed and start all over again. You can pick any track on here and you will be in the presence of excellence. My faves on here – well bar the head-scratching Jay Z moment – take your pick. The explicit Motown groove of “Staying In Love” is marvellous, as is “Take A Walk” with Stax overtones, the Cameo Parkway Philly sound of “Never Give You Up” is smashing and the early Motown sounding opener “Sure Hope You Mean It” is another classy effort. Now this is what I call Instant Vintage! Raphael, you've gone up in my estimations no end, my friend.

Barry Towler