Monday, 31 August 2009

Various Artists - Astral 22 Presents...Imperial Progressive Soul Collection Vol. 1 - 2009 -Trans Phatt

This is a real must-have compilation of quality artists - mostly Ladies - old and new and as a result I cannot recommend it enough. Almost every track is strong and what has been achieved here is a showcasing of the best in modern, progressive soul music in 2009. Props to Armund Tulumello for this sublime set. OK, onto the individual tracks, of which those of note are legion. If you like kick-ass strong opening cuts then Mz. Pat's belter, "Fair Play (Turn Around)" will sure get you in the mood. This is a funky number with plenty of whoomph! factor and a vocal that hits us in the Gospel style a la Helen Baylor or even Ann Nesby. Excellent Lady Soul for 2009 and then some! But wow, Heidi Martin floors us with a SUPERIOR choon in the form of "Ism". I LOVE the vocal style of Carole King and boy does this lady share a lot of ground with her. Even the inflections and wistful 'hang-in-the -air' notes are there! This is a jiggling, percussion filled monster of a track, infectious with plenty of solid and dependable Steinway piano acting as a musical underlay. I have had this CD a few weeks and I cannot stop playing this. Simply wonderful.

Astral 22 have reworked the great Rena Scott tune, "In This Life" very effectively and have given us not a remake but quite a new version which is as toothsome as the original. Things get even better here with a much more robust backing. Superb! LeNora Jaye's tasty "Do You Wanna" is another winner with a lazy, slinky beat and some effective bluesy guitar lacing the mix. This is a jam and a half and one to grind to - if you have a grinding partner that is! Fans of the latest Kloud 9 gem from Gianna will instantly take to the similar and sexy Katie Cole and her brilliant stepper "Think About It". This really is superb. My favourite track, however, is the KILLER tune "Starting Over" by Simone. This is so worthwhile and makes a purchase of this CD compulsory for this alone. For the male vocalists, Rogiers steps up to the mic with the gorgeous flute-filled "The Reason" - again very today, very classy and totally what you would expect from, say, Expansion. So many great tracks on here - and it is only Volume One! On the strength of this CD I cannot wait for Volume 2. Bring it on, Armand, bring it on!!!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe