Stone Rollin' CD
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Known for defying the confines of working within one genre, this standard bearer for "old school" R&B returns with a new release that celebrates the classic sounds of 60’s and 70’s soul with a futuristic twist. Featuring ten new tracks, Stone Rollin’ is the follow up to Saadiq's 2008 solo album The Way I See It, which boasted four Billboard R&B chart singles and was nominated for three GRAMMY Awards including Best R&B Album.
It’s always nice to hear a soul singer who genuinely revels in the job title, and Raphael Saadiq has taken his responsibilities seriously for some 20 years now: first as one third of the nu-soul vocal trio Tony! Toni! Toné!, then as a solo singer. Each manifestation has been hugely successful, confounding expectations to take inherent soulfulness in any direction possible. Stone Rollin’ continues that approach, with a vintage rhythm & blues eclecticism that puts you in mind of early P-Funk’s musical hyperactivity, when artists messed about with whatever black music took their fancy and turned it into their own.
Tracks Heart Attack, Go to Hell and Stone Rollin’ all live up to their hard-rocking titles, providing invigorating blasts of the sort of self-celebratory rock-inspiring funk reminiscent of Sly Stone or vintage Bobby Womack. A big helping of urban blues is carried into Radio and Over You, which occupy that raucously joyous place where R&B originally met rock’n’roll. However, all of this is anchored by Saadiq’s handling of melodies, in both the vocals and the playing (most of which he handles himself). Everything is so assured that it doesn’t matter how hollerin’ it gets, everything still sounds like a song.
On the quartet that closes the album we really get what the singer is all about. Just Don’t, The Answer and Good Man are irresistible mid-tempo soul numbers, with such a light touch to the arrangements that big orchestrations never overwhelm the vocal harmonies. It’s a totally natural swing, one that Saadiq has always effortlessly pulled off; it makes the complex seem so easy on the ear that you’re seduced by the half-hidden touches and flourishes without even realising you’re paying attention. Just Don’t showcases Tony! Toni! Toné!-style vocals, The Answer is wistful jazz/funk, while Good Man has more than a touch of Willie Mitchell about it.
Worth the price of admission by itself, though, is Movin’ Down the Line, a sunny, relaxed and breezily rocking, deceptively simple piece of work. It has every bit of digital snap needed to succeed among today’s sounds; but Saadiq’s masterful use of a big brass section lurking w-a-a-ay into the background picks the tune up and puts it down in a completely different era. The song turns out both laidback and urgent at the same time, and is utterly irrepressible for it. Pretty much like the rest of this album, on which such Saadiq trademarks work their magic once more.
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Top Customer Reviews
"He cut his teeth touring with Prince and singing with R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! and has become something of a standard-bearer for old school rhythm'n'blues in his solo career.
"Stone Rollin'" is an immaculate, eminently palatable throwback to the sweet soul sounds of Al Green and Marvin Gaye, spiced up with 60s dance grooves, beat pop and glimpses of the big band boogie of Sly Stone.
"What's Going On" is an obvious touchstone for Go To Hell's graceful, uplifting orchestral arrangement and The Answer iss gentle call for collective and individual responsibility.
But unlike breakthrough albums by Amy Winehouse and Plan B, Saadiq's painstaking retro pastiche neglects to inject a 21st-century spin on its influences". F. Shepherd
It clocks only 37 minutes, and this may be a criticism, since it is a little bit short and one or two more songs would have rounded this album out a bit more.
But he has produced a few gems in "Heart Attack", "Go To Hell" and "Good Man".
It's worth a listen for those who love a bit of nostalgic 60s inspired music and there's no one better to bring it to you than Raphael Saadiq.
Opening with a stone cold groover "Heart Attack", which sets up the ride perfectly. Heavy, fuzzy guitar, pounding drums, chanking rhythm section, powerful vocal, reverb effects, sirens in the background - this is more in the territory of Sly & The Family Stone. That's a welcome change. Then track two is a stunning, blissful love anthem with gorgeous strings and a rolling beat. Again I could say "Curtis" here, but its Raphael coming into his own. I love this. Its beautiful, lush. Background chant vocals kick in and this track soars high, high, high. I immediately want to buy a ticket to the show so I can experience this high live.
Third track, the single "Radio'" a classic R&B groover with mean surf guitar, finger snaps and a really cool vocal with a very 60's vibe. That's it already, this album is certified classic. Then after the cool sounding "Over You" we get the heavy, Rolling Stones-ish "Stone Rollin'" with wailing blues harmonica, strings and classic Brit R&B groove-meets-basement-soul. This is pretty incredible stuff.
The album has peaked. It couldn't possibly get any better than the first half? We get the whimsical blues of "Day Dreams". Who am I kidding, this is still great stuff.Read more ›
Guiltily, it's taken me a while to catch up to his latest release Stone Rollin, but I'm mighty glad I have. On first listen it seems a relatively straightforward continuation of the `neo-soul' style genre he's already helped establish, covering all the usual bases - jazzy swing, strutting blues and Motown sugary sweetness - a quick listen might make you think many are indeed mere pastiches, but settle down and pretty soon a unique specialness begins to emerge...
There's a very intelligently crafted sonic continuity running throughout, acting to bind some apparently disparate strains together, which makes it that rarest of modern beasts - an album that demands you listen to the whole damn thing... And `Down the Line' is a track that would take gold in any era.
The trouble is that the live experience is so poor. I've just seen him in Brussels. He began with the excellent "Good Man", and broke it off about a third of the way in, to segue, medley-style into something else (something inferior, from a previous album), so, basically, trashing the song. He appears to respect the audience, with loads of yells of "BELGIUM!" for a cheap cheer in response, but by the end of the concert he hadn't broken sweat.
In concert, also, he appears to like to think that his band is a democracy. This means that as many as 4 of the songs are sung by other members of the band, each one unworthy of the honour, being very competent backing singers but not the artist the crowd had come to see. Even the real young ones in the audience, overawed by those greats biceps of Saadiq knew something (other than biceps) was missing. I overheard one pair leaving saying, "he was good, but..."
The concert was throwaway as that's how Saadiq treated his material. It seemed far more important to make sure that the crowd was clapping -- so every song would be broken up by clapping sessions -- than to do respect to the material. On the website where I bought the ticket was the quote from him that he'd wanted to write an album that he could go out with and tour (implying he'd achieved this with Stone Rollin'), but he played perhaps only 3 or 4 of the tracks from the album, and just 1 or 2 of them with feeling.
I travelled from the south of the Netherlands for this and very much dislike the disrespect Saadiq showed his material and the audience, who came to hear it given that respect.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great tracks all round and can’t imagine how it’s taken me so long to find this talented artist.Published 11 months ago by Symo
Tremendous album. Shame I can only give 5 stars, it would have been more.Published 18 months ago by Mr T
Love this album- reminds me off sixty soul- the guy has a fantastic voice- if you have never heard of the bloke- I would highly recommend it- Ally BongoPublished on 4 Jun. 2014 by alastair stewart
i had a copy of this but it went by the wayside, so pleased to get another copy, a great way to introduce yourself to Raphael.Published on 22 May 2014 by Redmond6