Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1098

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Review

Vintage League Music: Family Album Vol.1

VLM (

9

6.9

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UK release date 17.12.2020

Featuring an amazing array of talent, this lineup of new and exciting VLM artists/collaborators with fresh new material includes the likes of Alan Evans, On The Spot Trio, Crowd Company, BT ALC Big Band with John Medeski, Kris Yunker with Mike Dillon & Will Bernard, Natural Soul Band & Matt Schofield, Brother GoodLove, Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers with Neal Evans, Johnny Trama & The B3 Kings with Jesse Dee. Beautifully packaged with cool JB style retro artwork. What's not to like for the modern funk & soul fan?

VLM are cutting a unique path in contemporary funk & soul, while producing bona-fide cuts that should prove to be an ideal entry point into their seriously stylish world. 10 glorious tracks that are bursting at the seems, keeping the grooves shiny and the beats sweet. Allow me to dive in...

The Natural Soul kick off with the rampant sounding "Hey!!" featuring Bluesmaster and Matt Schofield's cutting/bending guitar with a severely edgy twang (gets mangled to f#@k with a tasty wah wah). Imperiously, this leads the way over this hammond driven hottie, sweetly setting the following scenes, especially with the next track. Namely, The BT ALC Big Band featuring keyboard maestro John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) on “What Will You Do”. A man who specialises in envelope filtered electric piano over big and bad fat ass horns, driven by the nola inspired beats of drummer Dean Johnston, with some excellent and imperious high hitting sax soloing. This track is slick and slinky as hell (like many tracks on offer here).

British funk and soul act, Crowd Company chip in with the prescient "Silent City", a pop soul gem that offers a glimmer of hope in these trying times. Adding extra punch is Alan "One Man Church" Evans on drums and who happens to be all over this album, playing on no less than six tracks! Goddam, he's a good singer too! "Here With Me", a sumptuous love song with shades of Shuggie Otis/Hall & Oats meets Al Green, this hits the sweet spot.

Physchedelia isn't very far away either, with the excellent "Deep State' by post funk revivalists, On The Spot Trio. Of special merit is Danny Mayer's ripping guitar solo over a mad cowbell and organic hip-hop groove to die for, courtesy of Andrew Klein. Keeping the party going and up next (it's that man again) Alan Evans with his trio, presenting us with the thematically enthralling "High". This people, is what you call the good stuff...

Side two kicks off with a sense of frenetic urgency with Kris Yunker's "Slammin'". A belter that hits that vital home run with groovy keys, jazzy guitar, hot horns and a towering vibe that few bands can muster in a studio environment.

Suffice to say, it all cuts the mustard and Brother Goodlove's "A little Bit Of Sunshine" adds to their authentic soul mission perfectly. All of this wonderfully assured material is crafted and uplifting too.

VLM (a label that is barely a year old) are carving out a whole new style for themselves expanding their remit rapidly and growing into a mighty force to be reckoned with.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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