Sunday, 15 February 2009

Various Artists - Soul Of Brasil - 2005 - You Entertainment

Various Artists - Soul Togetherness 2004 (UK Expansion, 2004)

If the Café Soul All-Stars album is up your street them go straight to Amazon via the link below and order this. This album was as interesting as it was essential. This album contains more superb productions by The Starship Orchestra’s Jacques Burvick, and Duke Jones and features some superb performances from Marva King, Denise Stewart, Diana Booker, Luciana Mello and our old friend, Ali Ollie Woodson. This was actually a Brazilian release only, but is now widely but available. This set is definitely recorded for the Brazilian audience and contains many classy soul outings performed in Portuguese. This is, if you have not heard anything like this before, very interesting. The productions are solid, the music sturdier still, and the vocalists are magnificent. Interesting also is the Latin versions of popular US numbers. Brian McKnight’s “What’s It Gonna Be” is given a very tasty makeover by Edmon as is his BRILLIANT remake in Portuguese of Maxwell’s 1998 song “Everwanting To Want You To Want”. Eric Benét’s gorgeous 1996 “Femininity” is given an interesting and quite respectful remake in English by Edmon as well, and showcases in English what a great talent he is. What I particularly like is the chorus is sung in Portuguese! So we have our cake and eat it too! That’s fine by me. This makes you hear an old song in 2 different lights, and I rather like this.

Not withstanding this, though, the real showstoppers are the original (and not so original!) songs by familiar names. If anyone could do a great job of sounding like Jean Carne it is the beautiful Marva King on “Once Again I’ll Call”. I imagine these are what were Brazilian songs – this one “Osverbos Do Amor” – and remade in English. The intricacy of the romantic Portuguese tongue sometimes falters when translated, but not so on this album. Marva is such a great talent that she handles the twists and turns of the lyrics with ease, precision and grace. She sounds great, and Leo Gandelman’s sax could be mistaken for Marion Meadows’. Marva’s second tune is even better than this superb track. “They Say” is a typical essential Jacques Burvick outing and would not surprise me if this had been intended for a star-studded Norman Connors album. This certainly made me happy. Denise Stewart thrilled us on the Café Soul All-Stars album and also makes an appearance here with the deliciously Latin “Kiss Me”. Throughout this album there is a spoken word but I am not sure who does this. Where it does pop up it is very well placed and does nothing but add to the track and not detract from it. A new name to me was Diana Booker. Her song is called “Future Lovers” and is another translation from Portuguese. The lyrics in English are really beautiful, poetic and have had some intelligent thought behind it. You so-called US R&B artists (yes, YOU!) please leave the ego and the bling bling at the door, sit down, shut up and listen. You may just learn something. Diana’s able vocals and the seriously soulful music become one with the passion of the lyric and elevate this high above anything that is being churned out in America at the moment.

“Simple Measures” by Luciana Mello – another new name to me – is simply riveting, as it is delicate. Her effortless and smooth vocals along with the gentle melody may initially impress you as being pleasant but meandering, but by 90 seconds the song really grabs you and gets into the old grey matter. Sounding like a gentler and talented Desree, Luciana has the talent to definitely appear again with Jacques, Norman and Duke. Or at least I hope so. My final pick is the SUPERB remake by Ali Ollie Woodson of Phil Perry’s 2001 song, “Spirit Of Love”. I love this song equally as I do the original, and what I get from this is song is the reaffirmation of what a sensational vocalist Ollie is. This song is superb and I cannot recommend it enough. Any one of these songs on this album alone would be enough to prompt an immediate purchase by me and I think you won’t do wrong by adding this album to your collection.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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