Monday, 22 March 2010

The Whispers Orchestra - T.W.O. - 2010

Albums like this jump up, surprise us and demand our attention from the offset. With an excellent written introduction to the Whispers Orchestra by Nicholas Caldwell himself, he introduces us to the talents of vocalist and keyboard supremo Grady Wilkins, Saxophonist John Valentino, Guitarist Emilio Conesa, Bassist Jamie Brewer, Keyboardists DeWayne Sweet, Percy Scott, Reggie Rugley and drummer Dante Roberson. Not only do we have these talents but the added extras of soul greats Phil Perry, Alyson Williams, Russell Thompkins Jr, Tracy Hazzard and The Whispers themselves. Trust me, this is such a classy and sophisticated album! Not for those who like their R'n'B in a hoodie-styled blingtastic rumpshaker style, but instead a fully-fledged adult set that sets out to make you dance and only the Whispers and their Orchestra can do.

I have to start with the GORGEOUS track two, "Maybe This Time" which is a drop-dead killer ballad. If Keith Washington's "Kissing You" appealed to you big-time as it did me then you are going to love this! This song could easily be a classy album cut from a 1991 major-label set. You remember those? Yeah, me too - and weren't they great?! Well, if the quiet storm sounds of the likes of Keith Washington's "Make Time For Love" set is to your liking then this is for you! The hearty and upbeat "Rockin' Steady Again" plays on their 1987 hit penned by Babyface, and as the song progresses it gets more and more 80s with some killer drum machine and synths! Lovin' it so much! The slight Philly flavoured knee-trembler "Can I?" features the amazing talents of Phil Perry and Alyson Williams and again harks back to the classy quiet storm moments of the late 80s and early 90s. Sophisticated soul music doesn't appear much like this in 2010 so snap it up, folks!

The Stylistics' frontman Russell Thompkins Jr woos us with the beautifully lilting and sax-filled "Family". Sounding so smooth and untouched by time this guy really gets the gooseflesh appearing on my arms. The uptempo instrumental "Jafunk" would not be out of place on a latter day Tom Scott album for GRP, and the swinging feel-good groove of "Inside Lovers, Outside Friends" is one to get the feet tapping and sounds great played up loud! "Cabo" takes us to a far-flung island paradise for a slice of jazziness that fans of Peter White would appreciate. This is a great song and oozes warmth! Two real vocal killers appear in the shape of "Ready Or Not" and "Miss Aphrodisiac" featuring the towering talents of Tracy Hazzard and The Whispers respectively. The style of the Whispers recent set really is strong on the former and Tracy may be a new name but, boy, is she a knock-out talent! Again, a track that would not be out of place on a classy '90s set. The latter song is a chilled-out affair, an acoustic affair that allows Walter and Scotty to shine. When the full instrumentation kicks in, slap-bass and horns the lot, the mighty Whispers harmonies kick in to devastating effect...this is a real must-have set and can be downloaded on Amazon or purchased on CD Baby! Enjoy!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

Download from Amazon