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Issue 1084

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Review

Stone Foundation: Holy Blue (PinkBox Records)

Stone Foundation: Holy Blue (PinkBox Records)

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UK release date 23.10.2011

Stone Foundationâs single âHoly Blue,â for release on seven-inch vinyl. No pre-conceived ideas and no knowledge of this band before now. Drums start, tambourine, guitar, bass, rhythm guitar then the vocal kicks in. A little taste of keys, lush strings and brash brass. âHoly Blueâ is not like anything around right now. But it is like a lot of what was around back in the day, and the Wigan and Stoke lot may well have dug it in a big way.

So are these guys from Detroit? New York? Washington? Nahâ¦.Warwickshire. Whaaaat! Oh yes my friends. Stone Foundation are seven white guys making sweet soul music â they call it âthe sound of small town soulâ - that takes all the best bits of those good old days, and mixes it into a tasty melting pot for a great big dollop of musical love on your plate. Steaming hot too. Perhaps less commercial than say Fitz and the Tantrums, but just as classy for sure.

To be honest, on first listen I liked it, but still felt there was something missing. On second play, I liked it even more. Then I watched the video of the track, and the penny dropped. Musical fungusâ¦â¦â¦..grows on you more and more. I am sure the specialist soul shows will wear it out, but I cannot see this getting rotational airplay on national stations. Not the strongest hook in a song, but worthy of the mass public making their own mind up, and that can only be done if they get to hear it.

Under a microscope, at times there seems a battle between the vocal and the track, when the music sometimes overpowers Neil Jones contribution. A tweak in the mix would clear that one up. Lovely Hammond sound. Horns cut through. String arrangement is spot on. Rhythm section earns its keep, and the whole sound is a retro gem. No wonder such legends as Joe Harris of The Fabulous Peps and Motown stars, The Undisputed Truth, chooses SF as his backing band when on these shores. Joe lent his vocals to a few of their tracks. Yeah, they keep good company, with Joe and the great Nolan Porter, in recent times.

More people will get to hear this track though, as the band is opening for The Specials across the landâs big arenas, for a 15-date tour right now. As I said; they keep good company, since their humble beginnings playing in a Sutton Coldfield cellar. After the Specials mallarkey, they tour with Geno Washington next year. Joe is coming back to work with them on the road and in the studio too.

When asked by Craig Charles on BBC 6, the difference between a UK band and a US band, Joe told him: âThe accent! But if they can funk, it donât matter.â Talking of Craigâ¦.check out the video on Stone Foundationâs website, of the session the band did for his show, and Joe singing âPapa Was A Rolling Stone.â His vocal delivery is a dream, such a laid back approach on that iconic song. Can you spot the rude slogan on the tee shirt in the control room? I did laughâ¦â¦â¦â¦.

Stone Foundation is Neil Jones lead vox, Nikki Sandall lead guitar, Neil Sheasby on bass, Ian Arnold on Hammond, Phillip K Ford on drums. The horn section is Spencer Hague on trombone and Lynn Thompson on trumpet. âHoly Blueâ is 3.41, taken from their latest album âThree Shades of Stone Foundation.â That album features both Mr Porter and Mr Harris. The flip side of this single, (If Loving you is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right; is exclusive to this release. That song first recorded by The Emotions and Veda Brown, but never released. A Billboard number one for Luther Ingram, and of course, there was the tweaked version by Millie Jackson.

Last word to Grammy-winner Joe Harris: "I played with a lot of musicians in my time, the Funk Brothers included and I can tell you â¦â¦â¦.these guys have a deep understanding and feel of soul music." That may well be the undisputed truthâ¦â¦â¦.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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