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Soul Express Album Review


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TY STEPHENS:
Aquarian Mind

US Musichemeleon, 2006
1) Waiting 2) The Power 3) What Does Your Heart Say 4) Found 5) That Damn Full Moon, Again 6) Sucker! 7) What Can I Do For You 8) Skydance 9) All The Love 10) Chaka! 11) Never As Sure (As I Am Right Now) 12) Another Thought... 13) I Never Liked You

Regular long-time readers of Soul Express will be familiar with Ty Stephens. My good colleague, Kimmo, was rightly impressed with the superb "Deeper In Fantasy" set and no prizes for coming to the assumption that he will also like this set. This CD is best described as a joyful kaleidoscope of sounds gelled together with a bohemian spirit and a whole lotta soul.

I am very impressed with this set for many reasons. It is a musical statement and a testament to the enormous pool of ability and talent that Ty has within him. I know that he worked some time on this set and as the old saying goes '‘if its worthwhile, its worth waiting for'’ "Aquarian Mind" – a telling title if ever there was one of the direction of this artist – was definitely worth the waiting.

My only fear – as I have seen expressed elsewhere – is that in an age of conveyer belt music and fad this set will criminally fall by the wayside. Let’s make sure this is not so. Ty shares a lot of his soul, and I think this is what makes this CD rather above bar. It certainly comes from within and not from some marketing ploy. The album erupts in such a joyful way that it automatically starts lifting the mood. As I play and write this piece, a neighbour’s 18 month year old has wondered in and grinned. He then started swaying to the music. Bless his heart!

"Waiting" is infused with some salsa flavours, seriously infectious brass, heady percussion and funky slap bass. Ty’s vocals soar above this amalgam like an eagle. It’s a real joy to listen to. Imagine this done live! Truly a magnificent effort. A more uptempo programmed number is the delicacy that is "What Does Your Heart Say?". There is plenty of room atop the beats for feathery guitar and tasty keyboard riffs, and Ty’s vocals would definitely be placed in the ‘old school’ bag.

Kicking back for a moment is the sultry and essential "What Can I Do For You?". This is soulful jazzy music at its best, and all the instruments are REAL! For me these aforementioned songs make this an essential release. However, the best was yet to hit me. You may recall that I am not a lover of live recordings, though Jon Lucien’s essential "Live in NYC" set soon trounced that! Two songs here were recorded live at the Soul Café in NYC on Ty’s birthday – 29th January 2003. These songs are so brilliant they have to be heard to be believed. This is straight back to REAL songs, real musicianship that we best hark for in the mid 70s.

"Skydance" is a real jazz fusion feast of all the best things you can think of 70s jazz-fusion. I hear Ramsey Lewis, Eddie Russ, Earth Wind & Fire and Charles Earland all in one … MAGNIFICENT! This is followed by the luscious ballad "All The Love". Ty is a real talent and his abilities should be made wider knowledge by law as far as I am concerned. The fact that such artists are unknown to the vast majority of the public is an affront to good taste. The very least you can do is grab as much of this CD as you can because that isn’t it … check out the upbeat and jazzy "I Never Liked You"…a perfect end to an incredible musical journey. Sheer class.
-Barry Towler


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