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Soul Express Album Review

360 Degrees
(US BCS, 2006)

1) Make Me Want You 2) Seasons 3) Is It? 4) L.D.L. 5) Someone Like You 6) Stay And Lay 7) I'll Be Around 8) Never Take Your Love From Me 9) Somebody's Watching You 10) Full Circle 11) Spend Some Time 12) Is This Love? 13) Somebody's Lovin' You

This album has so many excellent tracks on it, it really does. Rarely today do we get albums of this calibre – especially at the start of the new year. We all know and love this gentleman, so he really needs no introduction. His work with Slave in the late '70s, and Starlena Young as Aurra and Déja in the 80s were impeccable as far as this scribe is concerned. Curt can turn on a sixpence and deliver a hot funky dancefloor groove one moment, then offer us a devastatingly sensual ballad the next. Not many artists can do this, and as I always say it is in the ballad arena where the boys are separated from the men. On this excellent CD, if further proof be necessary, Curt Jones does exactly that and prove he is no boy! Importantly, Curt's vocals are still of a very high quality. In fact, on may cuts I am seriously reminded of Walter and Scotty Scott from The Whispers.

I hear echoes of the genius of Marvin Gaye, too. Indeed, the opening track funks us in a 70s Gaye / Ware “I Want You” groove, peppered with a dash of guitar for good measure. The album is worth the asking price for this track alone. However, for these ears it is not the best cut on here! Yes, the CD is that good. In fact, it was “Seasons” which grabbed my attention in a BIG way. This gorgeous ballad has a classic 80s sensibility; the deep bassline and keys are supported by a haunting synth line, and Curt's vocals are seconds to none. “Seasons” represents the style of soul music that I really identify with and would love to hear more of. “Is It?” has received a lot of play on Richard Searling's radio show which is where I first heard this CD. Its not only here in the UK which has rightly picked up on “360 Degrees”. An radio station in Holland, has made this CD their 'album of the month. What great taste these Dutch have! This is another top-draw track which has a real chunky edge.

Many more youthful artists should listen to this album as it is an education in music crafting. What we display here is the best sensibilities of the 80s with the foundation funk from the 1970s, but firmly rooted in 2007. It is this fantastic musical amalgum that makes this album so delicious. The ballads continue apace with the gorgeously relaxed and simple “Someone Like You”. This really does hit the spot. Again, I can hear The Whispers doing this. The excellent toe-tapper “Stay And Lay” will also impress, of that I have no doubt.We are not half way through and already we have FIVE essentail 'must have' tunes. You'll not be surprised to know that the quality does not stop there, but if it had I would not be complaining! “I'll Be Around” is a very pleasant bubbler but I feel is surpassed by the superb “Never Take Your Love From Me” which features an old friend, Monte Moir, on a blinding fender rhodes solo. So, we know this is going to be a classy, classy, track. Take it from me – it is.

Full Circle” is chilled, bass-driven and unashamedly more-ish. This is another song that gets many plays here at home and in the car. Curt really does propel his vocals on here and really does show how good he is. Musically, I am reminded of Art Maddison on the equally tasty “Spend Some Time”. The 80s feeling is definitely here and the Marvin influences are more than welcome. “Is This Love?” at almost 7 minutes is yet another top-draw song of which Curt can be proud. The intro at nearly one minute allows the keyboards to do all the talking and then ably sets the table for the guitar, percussion and Curt's cool voice to serve up areally smooth treat. We've had quite a few guitar flavours on here, ranging from rocky, funky, acoustic and within the tapestry of “Somebody's Loving You” we have a sweet Latin serenade. There really is no end to this gentleman's talents and I think its a crying shame that we have had to wait so long for a soolo set. I only hope that this album is as successful as it deserves to be and that it gets the dues that it deserves. It rates as one of THE albums trhat you should have in your collection from 2006 / 2007. And that should be down by law!  Please check out CD Baby and iTunes. - Barry Towler

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Albums of the Month in 1997

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