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Soul Express Album Review

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The Truth Vol. 2
(UK Expansion CD, 2006)

1) More Than Friends 2) Only In My Dreams 3) Golden Lady 4) So Lovely 5) Somebody Like You 6) Tomorrow’s Not Promised 7) Do You Remember 8) Labelled As Love 9) Intimate Times 10) Left Alone 12) 24/365/10 13) Satan’s Jam 14) Love Is On It’s Way

I imagine everyone will already be aware of, and probably have a copy if they’re willing to admit it, of Frank’s legendary Motown sessions, whether it be the bootleg CDR or the recent Frank McComb CDR release. I had heard these sets and loved them, but was very sad at the quality – these were, after all rough demos. All that raced through my mind was ‘what the hell is wrong with Motown?!’ (no prizes for any answers – there are far too many and none of us have the time! LOL) You may recall that I spoke at length with the legendary Steve Harvey back in the summer of 2004 about his upcoming projects, and he indicated that he was busy reworking these famed Motown sessions. Well, the man has done a FANTASTIC job on here and I can promise that the sound quality is second to none.

There are all the tracks that we are already familiar with (minus "Shine" and "The Milk Of Human Kindness"), as well as some different songs recorded prior to the essential "Truth Vol. 1" album. Frank McComb is a genius. He is not only a super-gifted musician but is a first-class vocalist. Does this man channel Donny Hathaway or what?! I have absorbed this album like osmosis. I have lived this album and for me it is the epitome of sheer class. I sat here last night on my own by candlelight with the puppy on my lap fast asleep, and this CD was in the background. This was one of THOSE perfect evenings. All was missing was a bottle of wine or a bottle of cream stout! LOL.

Every track is essential, and none come more essential than the KILLER "More Than Friends". When I first heard the majesty of this song it brought a lump to the throat and tears to the eyes. Rarely does a record do that to me. This is seven and a half minutes of serious soul heaven. The warm keys, the hushed atmosphere and sympathetic accompaniment from Steve Harvey, Doc Powell, Paulinho Da Costa, the Nashville String Machine, Ron Huff and Sekou Bunch make this a KILLER CUT. When you hear this song you are aware of the greatness of it and the artistry, love and passion of all those talents who came together to make it. The album is essential for this alone.

"Golden Lady" is a beautiful cover of Stevie Wonder’s classic and has already gained a welcome release, but it is probably the four unreleased gems that you will be champing at the bit for! "Do You Remember" is a quirky, funky and very pleasing uptempo effort in the vein of Impromp2’s "Give It Up". Steve Harvey’s style is drenched through and through and his symbiosis with Frank is absolute magic. Freddie Washington is also a legend and does his thing like he only can.

"Labelled As Love" is a beautiful track featuring Bobby Watson on bass. Comparisons with Donny Hathaway are more than justified when you hear this sort of track. If for some crazy reason you doubt whether you will buy this set because you already have 2 versions of this set then prepare to reconsider. You cannot and should not overlook this album. The warmth that this particular song emanates is overwhelming. We really are hearing the masters at work here. The sincerity, tenderness and embracing nature of "Left Alone" is unquestionable. The instrumental, "Mr. Integrity", features a jazzier vibe and hats off to all concerned for it – especially saxophonist Louis Van Taylor who sure knows how to blow. Frank’s keys remind me of Ramsey Lewis’ 70s Columbia efforts and for me adds to the appeal and charm of the whole album. Incidentally "Love Is On Its Way" is from an original recording from 1994 and is more programmed than the rest of the set. This is a great track, but when placed next to tracks that are wholly based on real, live musicians comes across as being a bit sterile – though on its own it isn’t at all. Such magic is made when these great artists get together. I truly and seriously hope that any differences that may exist between any parties involved here be healed and repaired in time, if only for the sake of the music.

This is definitely an album to play again and again. It is already a timeless classic, but it is now remastered, recrafted and showered with the time and love it deserved from Motown back in the ‘90s. Motown’s loss is Expansion’s gain. A BIG thank you to Ralph Tee for his commitment to real music and getting this great work out legally in the public arena. All I want is the release of "Milk Of Human Kindness" … do we have enough for The Truth Volume 3? ESSENTIAL.
- Barry Towler

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