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Soul Express CD Review

Note: Read the fresh interview with Juewett Bostick from our issue 3/03

It’s Not So Easy

(UK Café De Soul, 2003)
Precious Love – You Need Love – It's Not So Easy – You Go To My Head – Elsi n’ Me – What Will I Do – Just Like This – I Can’t Tell You Why – Kellie’s Theme – Forever More – T.L.G. (Yaylor Louis Gite) – Its Not So Easy (Inst.) - Elsi n’ Me (no vocal) – Kellie’s Theme (Vocal)
Listening to Solar Radio and Jazz FM on a Sunday should come with a financial health warning for those like me who have severe cash flow problems! There I was reeling over another batch of new material and Mike Stephens hits the airways with a stunning duet between Ali-Ollie Woodson and Jean Carn. WOW! This, he said, was forthcoming from an artist called Juewett Bostick.
Intrigued, I delved deeper as the name was familiar. So it jolly well should be! Joewett Bostick has a healthy recording pedigree that stretches back to 1975 and Gary Bartz’s "Music Is My Sanctuary" album. He has since recorded, composed, produced and performed with artists such as Vanessa Williams, Barry White, Johnny Gill, Norman Connors, Norman Brown, The Temptations, Sister Sledge, Grover Washington Jr, Hubert Laws, Nancy Wilson, Thelma Houston and Tisha Campbell just to mention a few. This is a serious résumé where soul and jazz music fans should be concerned.
Café De Soul has licensed this gem for the UK and thank God too. Firstly I will concentrate just on the music CD as we also have a fantastic CD ROM for the pleasure of those who are technologically minded and don’t live in the 19th Century as I do!!! Before I carry on in depth I shall just recommend that you just go ahead and order this CD.
What this CD reminds me of is the superb Gerald McCauley "The McCauley Sessions" CD from 1999 on which the spotlight is on the quality music, compositions and talents of the producer and his various artists he has produced over the years. You will find "Kellie’s Theme"and "Just Like This" can be found on Norman Connors’ "Remember Who You Are" album (MoJazz 1993); "Precious Love", "You Go To My Head" and "Two Thumbs Up" (aka "T.L.G.") are lifted from the "Easy Living" album (MoJazz 1997) and are great to have all in one collection, as this highlight’s this man’s great works and symbiosis with the legend who is Norman Connors who co-produced this set.
Myself, I would prefer new material as I already have these songs. I am more interested in the new material on offer and it is simply on the merit of THESE that I shall now continue.
Ali-Ollie Woodson is one of my favourite singers full stop, and his 2001 CD is a soul masterpiece (thanks again, Andreas!) and all I can say is that if you loved that album you will love the excellent "You Need Love". If this is not #1 in Soul Express’ Quality Time section later this year then I will eat my CD Player (don't worry, you don't have to eat it... editor's note). This classy, classy midtempo song is but one of 6 new songs to savour and it would be on the strength of this song alone I would recommend a purchase of this CD.
Furthermore, Denise Stewart delivers a great midtempo groover in the form of "It’s Not So Easy" which is co-produced by Norman Connors. The voice of this Lady can be heard distinctly within the jazzy arrangement of "Elsi n’ Me" which is so much like a Norman Connors effort from 2000’s "Eternity" although this is produced solely by Juewett himself.
The track that has been pinning back the proverbial lugholes and raising interest on quality soul radio is the towering duet between Ali Woodson and Jean Carn, "What Will I Do". This is a strong, strong song and it’s a heady mixture of soul and jazz – Bostick’s guitar work here takes me back to the splendid Eric Gale on his "Island Breeze" album (1983) thus perfectly fusing the raw soul talent of Woodson and Carn with the jazzy guitar.
The classic Eagles composition I Can't Tell You Why has been covered before by soul artists – Gerald Alston recorded an incredible version for his 1988 Motown debut and now Jean Carn does her level best with the aid of Gary Bartz on Sax. Excellent, and very jazzy. I prefer the Alston version, though this is much jazzier and is highly worthwhile for that fact alone.
Denise Stewart pops up again on the 80s sounding "Forever More" and gives a splendid vocal performance. I particularly like the 80s-orientated synths in the backing so this satisfies in many ways. There are three variations at the end of the CD, which are also worthwhile, and this leads us onto the CD ROM!
If you do not have one then just take comfort in the fact that this is a must have CD! I recently argued that the major record companies are in a state of flux at the moment. I call it mass delusion myself, but I am bitter and twisted soulboy so forgive my rantings! What they are trying to do is this: they are desperate to create multi-functional entertainment packages where movies, games, music and video / DVD are all one neatly packaged consumable item. The days of quality artists being considered for a major label, folks, is dead and gone. Welcome the movie soundtrack, the Def Jam cum WWF computer games and associated tat … these are rapidly changing times but the cynic in me has been stilled for a moment by Mr. Bostick and his fully interactive CD ROM.
There are plenty of things to look at and do – it’s like a big virtual play park for soulies! This features multimedia and MP3 tracks that are NOT on the music CD. Confused or blinded yet? No? Help me out then! Seriously, though, this is a great extra with the CD and proves that although the man has been in the business years he has his head in Today and his mind on Tomorrow. This interactive CD includes two MP3 tracks "All The Way Down" which is a funky jogger recorded in 1989 with Denitria Champ on vocals. For me this is the better out of the two songs but "Posse Ride" is still a good effort again featuring Denitria and is mixed by none other than Craig T. Cooper.
There are also videos (great to see Ali Woodson in the studio!), sound excerpts and information on all the participant artists on this CD such as Art Webb and Norman Connors. You can use the hyperlink and zip off to the website and even buy some clothing. This really makes this a no-risk worthwhile CD to buy and I certainly want to hear more from Bostick in the future. EXCELLENT.
- Barry Towler

Albums of the Month in 2003
Albums of the Month in 2002
Albums of the Month in 2001
Albums of the Month in 2000
Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997

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