Having a healthy respect for Z Records and all things Dave Lee is a good starting point when talking about new music from the great man and his label, and this new set from this amazing UK group based in Leeds. No longer do the Great Cities of the US have monopoly on great music. That they gave up many years ago. Influenced by legends such as Herbie Hancock, Patrice Rushen, Bob James, Quincy Jones, Bruce Swedien, Rod Temperton, Michael Jackson, Pfunk, Eddie Henderson, George Duke, Pleasure, Prince, D'Angelo, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, Dexter Wansel and others group members Rachel Modest (vocals), Johnny Heyes (guitars), Jay Irving and Simon Moore (drums) deliver a KILLER album of soulful, upbeat boogie tunes that whisk us back to the early 1980s yet still have their roots firmly in 2010 and all things Z!!! One of the best albums of 2010 I can do nothing but heap praise on this set. Today's yester-now sound fused with storming basslines, soulful vocals, real instruments and more grooves than you can shake a stick at, "Pure Gold" serves as an apt title for this remarkable album.
Kicking off with an Earth, Wind & Fire groove we have a track called "Fantasy" - NOT an EW&F cover but a truly scintillating uptempo number with brassy flairs and gorgeous funky moogs. Vocalist, Fraser, works the groove with his smooth style and in places reminds me of Jamiroquai. This is no bad thing, but I hope he doesn't overtake me on the A12 as madly as dear old JK does in those flash cars of his! Brass and groove is the order of the day and Miss Modest lays down vocals on the awesome groover, "Pure Gold". These two tracks alone make the set more than essential but hey! We have the rest of the album to go through yet! The UK's very own Nate James has never sounded so good on the brilliant early 80s sounding "Written In The Stars", and fans of the Sunburst Band will immediately fall into line with these songs, they really will. Again Frazer steps up to the Mic for "Step By Step", and blows the cobwebs away.
"Think Twice" featuring Ella May is pure Sunburst Band and oozes summertime flavours. Although this is not a cover of the Donald Byrd song from 1975, the vocal refrain is certainly aped on here and, again, is a nice throwback to a far warmer, friendlier musical age. From this era we move to a crackin' mid 80s synthy soul / Club vibe with "Round And Round" - this adds some real light and shade, and what better than a stomping 80s groover on an icy, cold and snow-threatened day such as today?! The sound familiar to us a la The Controllers' "Stay" hits us on the 80s inspired interlude "Storm Chaser" - this deserves to be a full song. I LOVE this type of groove. Brilliant stuff!!! This leads into a foxy 70s outing that would make Randy Muller smile. "Supersexy" has elements of Messrs Muller and Burgess, and will get a few feet moving on the dancefloor! Trust me, this is one hell of a CD and you can order this blind. An amazing release and perfect for the festive season that is fast approaching!
The Vibe Scribe