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Issue 1092

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Review

Jnr Walker &The All Stars: Walk In The Night The Motown 70's Albums

Jnr 1

9

6.6

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UK release date 29.05.2019

Few sounds from a tenor saxophone are more distinctive than the music of Jnr Walker. Once heard, it's never mistaken for anyone else's music.He was the scorchingest dancefloor saxman in Motown history. Walker's playing is lyrical and sweet but meaty enough to summon scores of varying r&b and soul variations.

It's animated in a way that suggests gospel, yet his playing thrives on improvisation and instinct. And did we mention his singing? It's raw and raspy like his sax and always a joy and surprise to hear.Motown's most famous instrumentalist produced quality music whilst on the label and they are all here on this glorious compilation.'A Gasssss (1970) featuring a great version of 'Hey Jude' that equals Wilson Pickett's version and 'Physcedelic Shack' from the 'Rainbow Funk' album (1971) hits the mark too.'Moody Jnr' (1971) sees the gospel infused 'Way Back Home' as the opening track and some fantastic covers of 'Never Can Say Goodbye' and a jerky 'Walk In The Night' really cuts the mustard. I'd love to know who his band personnel was (sadly lacking from the booklet provided) I'm sure bassist, James Jamerson, is all over this as the musicianship is incredible.

The funkified 'Piece and Understanding Is Hard To Find (1973) sees Walker at his funkiest best with the groovetastic 'Soul Clappin' & 'Gimme That Beat Pt 1 & Pt 2 hitting the pocket sweetly.'I See Clearly Now' gets an Ike &Tina type makeover that motors emphatically and the final disc (3) sees our Jnr in smooch mode riding majestically on tunes such as Stevie Wonder's 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life' and Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly With His Song'.These six albums are a glorious achievement and it's good to reevaluate just how good an artist this guy was in terms of continuity and excellence he was probably Motown's best! This is essential listening for any discerning soul fan- no question!
Words Emrys Baird

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