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Soul Express CD Review

STEVE BUTLER featuring RON HAYNESSomething for the People
(US Pull ‘Em Up Records, 2005)

Windy City – Something For The People – Change – Let’s Go To Work – Giving My All To You – Shakedown – Tonight’s The Night – Bronzeville – Windy City (Extended mix)

This album is so funky it hurts!!! I adore the powerful horn-driven funk of Kool & The Gang, The Dazz Band, Average White Band and the J.B.s, and this CD contains all the best facets of their styles or airy, expansive funk. Also we have a peppering of classy vocals, the best of which is the gorgeously seductive Joaquina Mitchell and her superb “Giving My All To You”. More of that later! These guys ply their trombone, flugelhorn and saxes to devastating effect throughout this album, and the Chicago flavour really comes through nicely. Mind you, there is a healthy, if mere, taste of the Brazilian scene on the opening salvo of “Windy City” which is quite nice to boot. The extended mix is also very welcome I must say.

The J.B.s really spring to mind with the awesome stepper, “Something For The People”, along with funky chant and “Hot Pants Road” styled keyboard riff. Talking of riffs, the chaps link up with excellent vocalist, Mauri Sevier, on the chunky, yet laid back “Change”. The shuffling, heavy beat is easily restrained by a gentle, dreamy Rhodes keyboard and sturdy sax solo. One for any hot days that we may have left this summer! Mauri appears again with the seductive and sexy “Tonight’s The Night” and showcases some superb flugel horns courtesy of Ron Haynes.

“Let’s Go To Work” smacks of the Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s style and really is great. I had this on in the car on the way to work and this did a lot in raising my mood, I can tell you. Thinking about all things moody, I have already mentioned “Giving My All To You”. This is a top-drawer ballad with some sensational musical accompaniment that is both soulful and haunting. The lazy, almost drunken horns are spine tingling and this lady really does have a sexy voice. I love her tender, breathless and passionate approach and she soars like an eagle over this sexy, teasing clapping beat. The aloof horns and Latin guitar help make this one hell of an essential song. I would recommend this album on the strength of this CD alone, to be honest!

This is hotly pursued by my favourite uptempo track, which is “Shakedown”. This is one hell of a rump shaker and can’t help but make you feel so, so good. One word of advice – play it LOUD! The irresistible guitar riff and supportive Wah Wah does nothing to dampen the mood, and adds more ingredients to this very funky assortment of tracks. We are almost inspired to “get down with the Genie” if we are looking towards Kool & The Gang for any inspiration. The sax on this track throws me back to Donald Byrd’s excellent 70s efforts with the Mizell Brothers too, and that ain’t bad either!

Steve Butler and Ron Haynes have really come up trumps in their work here, and I don’t think anyone with any rhythm or soul in their bones will not fail to feel the groove on this CD. I would like to see much more from this collaboration and hope that the sexy Joaquina return to thrill us also. Head over to CD Baby and pick this up – you will not regret it. Music like this is so rare nowadays that it has to be trumpeted (excuse the pun!), promoted and important of all, enjoyed!
-Barry Towler

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