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Soul Express CD Review

(US PPL Records, 2004)
I Need You In My Life - Heaven Kind Of Love - Gonna Give You My Love - Cause I Love You - Fork In The Road - Don't Stop The Music - You're The One - Got You On my Mind - It's Love Again

YES! Yes, yes, yes! I have always wanted this fantastic album on CD and here it is, not from Expansion or any other UK company but from the original label itself, PPL Records. This was Garry's first album and is rightly revered by soul connoisseurs, especially here in the UK. Garry Glenn is, as you will know, one of my all-time favourite artists and this album was a tasty entrée to what was his excellent and criminally underrated set for Motown in 1987, "Feels Good To Feel Good". "G.G." was released in the summer of 1980 to a rather quiet reception here in the UK. This is not unusual as most classy albums and artists are given a lukewarm reception at the time of release as the supposed soul music pundits were too busy raving about cheap, tuppeny-bit British acts or the latest disco fodder.
Very little has changed in these 24 years apropos mentality, but what no-one can deny is that these overlooked albums stand the test of time way after the dodgy UK acts disappear and the dance trends change. Garry Glenn was a fantastic talent in his writing, production and his vocals which were unmistakeably unique. 2004 has seen renewed interest in this great man following the beautiful release on Expansion of Byron Woods' album featuring the Glenn-penned "Fly Away", and now comes this timely and welcome release by the good folks at PPL. This is released at an important time and serves to keep the memory of Garry alive, and to remind us what a talent we have lost.
The majority of this album is funky and uptempo and flows with its cheerful, west coast flavour. The swirling strings, fluid arrangements and Garry's cool pitching, phrasing and backing vocal arrangements make this a candidate for summertime listening. Nothing really smacks as 'disco' as such, but fans of the Confunkshun sound of the late '70s will appreciate these tracks. "I Need You In My Life" is a horn-filled dancer and is pitched towards the type of groove that Arthur Adams would have made. I do like this very much, but much prefer the ESSENTIAL flute-based "Heaven Kind Of Love" which is seriously addictive. The string section is great and Garry just oozes class on this. The warmth that is woven into this song almost radiates as the track progresses. The synth and Rhodes keyboards lead into a great vocal refrain at the end. Just a great, great track and one of Garry's best.
The west coast flavours continue with the stepper "Gonna Give You My Love" which is also spot-on, and is bettered by the mellower "Cause I Love You" which owes more to his Motown output than anything else. "Don't Stop The Music" is perhaps my least favourite as it is a bit too disco for my liking, and I never was into the space-effect sound, but hey that's me. A bit tired, even by 1980's standard but I guess the man was only doing what the rest were doing. Interesting, though to compare this with his other works. My ears much prefer the sublime "You're The One" which does have echoes of Byron Woods' "Fly Away" to it. It would sit nicely with other material of the day from material by Ndugu & The Chocolate Jam Co and Phyllis Hyman.
The samba-ish scratchy guitar groove of "Got You On My Mind" allows Garry's angelic voice to permeate and again suits the warmer weather rather than the ceaseless grey and drizzle that I'm currently staring at out of my window today! Using a weather analogy, if this CD opens like a lion it certainly closes like a lamb with the more falsetto, sweet-voiced, "It's Love Again", which again features the flute which I adore so much. OK, we have but 9 tracks, but this is the original album. I had hoped for some unreleased material as well, but perhaps none exist. I am always left wanting more with Garry Glenn.
Like other masters of the soul music form such as Keith Washington (NOT the MCA set, I hasten to add) or Gary Taylor, I simply cannot get tired or bored with them and am always happy to hear more. Alas, this great man was taken from us all too early back at the tail end of 1991, so it may be a case of what we hear is what we will get. I just want to thank PPL and the folks there for breathing new life into this CD and raising the profile of this soul music giant again in the 21st Century. Essential, and available from PPL direct (, Amazon, and many other places.
- Barry Towler

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