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Soul Express Album Review

K.I.P. (Keep It Pushin')
US Kipper Jones Music, 2007
1) Hey You! 2) Put The Music Back In Love 3) Honey 4) Better 5) Sit Down 6) Lose To Gain 7) The Missing Piece 8) In Her Presence 9) Summer Days 10) Podna' (Pt) 1) 11) Good Time 12) Faith!

2007 has been the year of many happy returns. The latest artist to spring back to prominence is Kipper Jones who releases his first solo set since 1990. Seventeen years is a long hiatus, but the man was certainly not resting on his laurels. He has written numerous hits for the likes of Brandy and Kenny Lattimore and has now turned his hand to his own set. I have to say that this album far exceeds his “Ordinary Story” set. To be honest, there isn’t a bad track on here.

Take for instance the brilliant opening song, “Hey You!” which reminds me of a classy Dazz Band jam from back in the day. Did I just use that phrase?! Apologies. The vocals, horns and funky guitar licks all speak of a better day when soul music was a lot more mature than it is today. Kipper attests to the decline himself in the cheekily titled “Put The Music Back In Love” – a female voice at the start attests that ‘a sound without focus is just noise’. Hear! Hear! The clonking beats and shaking backdrop with dreamy keys help with Kipper’s ministry to try and get the music back on track. Amen to that!

To remind us of a better time, Kipper drops a blistering cover of The Ohio Players’ “Honey”. In fact, I MUCH prefer his version over the original, believe it or not. It not only smacks of the Players themselves, but the vocals also warmly fit those of Earth, Wind & Fire, and especially Philip Bailey. Sugarfoot and the gang would be proud of this interpretation and you can just feel the love that Kipper put into this.

“Summer Days” with its warm keys and synth is simply a dream. The deep, resinous bass adds dreaminess to proceedings, and Kipper’s own vocal arrangements are simply spellbinding. The harmony is second to none. Tracks such as “Better”, “Good Time” and “The Missing Piece” straddle the more conventional and the modern styles perfectly; the Spartan arrangements and tapping beat a nod to the hip hop generation, the organ and old school sensibilities belie greater depth and experience, very much in the way that Kenny Lattimore does business. This is, then, a solid release and should be welcomed by every generation of soul music buyer.
- Barry Towler

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