One look at the session,production and recording history of Narada Michael Walden and its clear that in all those areas he might've done the most to shape the soul/funk/R&B spectrum of music in the post disco era. Not only that he was able to spin musical straw into gold on the pop and R&B charts through his productions with Stacy Lattisaw,Angela Bofill and of course the iconic Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. Aretha herself once quoated Clive Davis himself as saying Narada was a "brilliant new talent". That's not to mention this man was also a seminal jazz/rock fusion drummer for Mahavishnu Orchestra,Tommy Bolin,Weather Report,Jeff Beck and the fretless bass genius Jaco Pastorius. When it comes to being one of the most well rounded man in modern music,Narada Michael Walden has to at least nearly top the list. So where has he been as a recording artist on his own for the last 18 years? Probably still recording and producing from what I can see. Suddenly he put together Tarpan Records,an independent label through which he put together a new band for two albums: a fusion EP Rising Sun and this album. So far this is the one I went for. And even for someone as musically eclectic and exciting as Walden? This album is musically a complete surprise.
The title track starts out the album with guitarists Matthew Charles Heulitt's bluesy hard rock guitar licks that show up on "Shake The House","New York City","Movin' On","Power","Down Low" and "Don't Wanna Let Go". These are all interesting songs as they are guitar oriented hard rockers on the top,but on the bottom rhythmically funkified numbers that are crafted in the 12-bar electric blues ethic. Really the idea musical combination for the sometimes elusive funk/rock hybrid-as the blues is often the one mutual force holding a combo of funk and rock music's together and Narada and guitarist Heulitt have it down to a science on these numbers. "Throw Your Hands Up" is a high energy soul/gospel inspired number inspired heavily by the rhythm and blues/first generation rock n roll of the late 50's/early 60's that Narada did have a strong grip on in many of his 80's productions. Here however,that musical level of joy is presented in a much rawer production style. The ballad "40 Days" and the slightly faster "Shirly Mae" are both beautifully atmospheric neo-psychedelic type pop/soul numbers that add dreamy electronic synthesizer atmospherics as a vital element.
"We Belong Together" is a densely produced epic pop/rock type number with a wonderfully cinematic arrangement closely related to the type of jazz fusion Narada specialized in during his heyday. And for that "Miracle Of Fatima" delivers classic Narada style fusion with his trademark spiritual atmosphere close enough in style to that of his 70's musical cohorts John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana. "Dreams Of Vinyl" is a melodic contemporary soul ballad production with singer Nikita Germaine paying tribute to the joys of experiencing the musical joys of everything from Marvin Gaye and Prince to Jimi Hendrix on the now very much revived music format of the long playing LP record. The countryish heartland style rocker of "Dragonfly",with it's sweet melody and "Power/Angel Funk" concludes the album with the funkiest track on this album. I never thought I'd near Narada Michael Walden produce an album with such a full on rock oriented sound. The spirit behind the album,as well as the gentler parts of Narada's vocal delivery,is very much that of Lenny Kravitz here. Add to that the vastness and instrumental dexterity that lay behind anything Narada Michael Walden produces and you have an album that truly understands the source of which the funk,hard rock and fusion that populates this album rhythmically come from,and that quality is soul. And that's a quality that is squeezed and dripping from every side of this very welcomed and happily surprising comeback.