Top positive review
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Chilled out freeezin'
on 8 November 2011
It was with deep deep joy that i found this Cd listed on Amazon recently. I had been wanting this album on Cd for the past 25 years. In fact a few years ago i purchased digital remastering software and recorded the vinyl plus all the singles i had onto Cd so i could listen to them in the car....
Anyway, here is the real thing at last and playing this instantly creates a feel good vibe.
What amazes me about this album, (the original 9 tracks) is that it still sounds as fresh as the day it was released. The band unknowingly created a set that is timeless, although very much of its time. The instrumentation is flawless and highlights the skills of the musicians. Every track is played to perfection.
Freeez can be likened to Level 42 in that both groups had amazingly talented bassists, amazngly talented keyboard players and drummers and great songs that transmitted the 'sound' or identity of that group. Both recorded a critically acclaimed first album and toured it, both were British Jazz-funk groups with real credentials and both recorded a great deal of instrumental stuff.
Level 42 took the jazz-funk baton and ran with it, developing their sound, and eventually took it to greater success, in the process building a solid fan base and having at least one hit single off each of their first few early albums.
But Freeez stalled with a series of jazz funk follow ups that they tried to repeat the success of Southern Freeez the single with; they tried to focus on vocal hit singles and went away from instrumental jazz funk which was in hindsight, a mistake.
It would have been better if they has concentrated on being an album band like Level 42 and had developed their sound over several albums. I am sure hit singles would have emerged and cemented their success. I like to imagine a Freeez on say their 6th album in 1985, with a solid back catalogue of polished jazz funk behind them, a la level 42, but it was not to be.
With no huge smash follow up to their singles Southern Freeez and Flying High happening, what resulted was a dispirited band going to the USA and letting Arthur Baker turn this jazz funk band into an electro pop outfit. Despite a huge hit with I.O.U, Freeez were, effectively dead, their musicians credentials blown out of the water and never did anything much afterwards. See my review of Gonna Get You.
Here though, their talent shines through and what still amazes me is how polished and mature it all sounds, yet still with a raw thrusting edge. This is jazz funk and indeed music of the highest order. Check out Peter Maas' incredible and in-your-face slap bass playing. Andy Stennetts arpeggio piano solo playing and the dynamic drumming of Paul Morgan.
The original LP is on disc one and also, are their follow up singles Anti-Freeez, One to One and Alone, with the 12" versions of Southern Freeez and Flying High there two.
Disc two has the complete Anti Freeez remix album there. The remixes are a bit pants and mostly ruin the orginals, trying to make them a bit more electro.
There ar also the early singles, notably Keep In Touch, and a couple of unreleased demos.
I would have preferred the track order to be dfferent, with the early singles on disc one and the follow up stuff on disc two, as i feel it would have made more sense, but its a minor quibble.
What is a surprise is that there is stuff here i had never heard.
Mountain Man is a sublime piece of jazz funk, very reminiscent of Azymuth or Incognito. What a pity Freeez didn;'t follow this direction!
Also, the singles Stay and Hot Footing it are similarly awesome.
The other stuff like Anti-freeez, and Alone isn't so pleasing as its forcing itself to be more commercial to try to get that all important hit single and as a result, loses something.
The earlier stuff is the best.
Of the previously unreleased demos. the final track Say You Will be my Lover is very very good and should have been a single. I wonder if this was originally intended for Gonna Get You?
Its great to have this album released at long last. Treasure it; i will