Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1091

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Noel McKoy: Nothin' but the real McKoy

Noel McKoy
Noel McKoy Noel McKoy Noel McKoy Noel McKoy

With a two-decade-plus career that has already encompassed reggae (The Albions), rock (Impact), acid jazz (The James Taylor Quartet), and conscious soul (Mc Koy), Brit-soul vet Noel McKoy will unquestionably prove one of the key homegrown attractions at Augustâs upcoming Vintage At Goodwood Festival. Where his performance will likely include tracks from his latest, third album - 2009âs old skool soul-flavoured âBrighter Daysâ - plus its forthcoming offshoot single, the lyrically-insightful, percussion-driven âJealousyâ.

Indeed, with the South London-born-and bred singer/songwriter/producerâs upcoming plans including releasing his first dance music album as well as production/writing work for Italian songstress Kira plus upcoming UK singers Jade and Cheri Davis, he now happily reacquaints himself with long-time industry acquaintance Pete Lewis. As an ever-personable and down-to-earth Noel (whose CV impressively includes duets with both UK soul Queens, Mica Paris and Beverly Knight) looks back over past career highlights, while also expressing his candid opinions on todayâs British black music scene.

How Noel recalls his early days in little-known mid-Eighties London rock group Impact, with whom he recorded and performed live for six years

âBack then it was very much the era of bands like Loose Ends, who were all about the funky/jazz sound. So it was just refreshing to be in a band doing something with a lot more of a blues/rock edge to it - and we did manage to build up a good live fan-base. I remember one of our biggest fans was actually (late-Eighties UK black rock hit-maker) Andrew Roachford - who we first met when we did a gig at The Notting Hill Carnival and he was on before us! You know, back then he was doing a lot of Stevie Wonder covers - and, after we went on and did our rock set, he was like âI really enjoyed the gig!â... And from then on, at every show we did, weâd see Andrew there in the front; heâd come backstage; weâd chat... And the next thing I know, Iâm seeing him on âThe Ben Elton Showâ now doing the rock thing HIMSELF! So I think itâs fair to say we inspired him! And I guess one of my fondest personal memories of the band is the way weâd just turn up at a rehearsal and just CREATE! You know, back then - unlike music now - it was purely about the freestyle jamming. There was never a plan of action!â

His ideas on todayâs UK black/soul music scene

âWell, if youâre talking music scene in terms of black PEOPLE, itâs definitely on the UP! Because, if you look amongst the artists, weâve never SEEN so many black UK males in the charts at the same time! You know, the Wileyâs, the Dizzeeâs, the Chipmunkâs, the Ironikâs - all these guys are having Number One HITS! Whereas prior to them it was just your Lemar, Craig David... And then prior to THAT we can go back to maybe Seal, Billy Ocean... So, in terms of actual exposure, things are very GOOD! But having said that, for me personally Iâm not really convinced the actual QUALITY of the music is at a high. I just find a lotta the music Iâm hearing, thatâs coming out and crossing over, is very synthetic and not really that inspiring. To me itâs very beat-oriented and, while Iâm definitely all for change in music, I just think there could be more lyrical content and musicality. I basically think we need to make it more soulful again and have the kinda characters that we had back in the day, like the Omarâs and the Mica Parisâ - as well as more recent people like Terri Walker, who was also very good⦠But, you know, things always go round in circles. So I guess weâll just see what HAPPENS!â

In this month's special printed edition of Blues & Soul... Read about Noel's time touring with the James Taylor Quartet in the '80s and how the distinctive funky/jazz sound that they were creating went on to influence a plethora of other artists. He also recalls soul/funk group Loose Ends and the exceptional talents of singer Andrew Roachford... Order your copy now.

Noel performs at The Vintage At Goodwood Festival on Saturday, August 14

Noelâs single âJealousyâ will be released in September. His album âBrighter Dayâ is out now, both through Tri-Sound

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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