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Serious Soul For Soulful Solace
on 11 May 2013
The Demon Music Group has continued to add to the steadily expanding 'Back Beats' series, and for this, the 35th release, the ever reliable and experienced Ralph Tee takes the helm to deliver 19 tracks under the generic title 'Lay Back & Chill' (BACKB035), with a retrospective encompassing the years 1972 to 2002.
The disc opens with the simply sublime voice of Luther Vandross and 'Once You Know How' (1982), a mellow opener replete with subtle string accompaniment and the beautiful phrasing of a dearly missed legendary singer. This is followed by the piano edged groove of 'We Never Said Goodbye' (1980) by Dionne Warwick and the distinctly electronic driven sound of Glenn Jones' 'Stay' (1990). Patti Austin takes up 'Say You Love Me' (1976), opening with an acoustic setting which gradually opens up to an expansive and swaying sound. Lou Courtney's 'What Do You Want Me To Do' (1973) takes the sound back to an altogether older setting, with an opening vocal vamp and a deliciously deceptive classic take on hormonal raging via the telephone. Keni Burke delivers the beautifully melodic (and painfully short) 'Paintings Of Love' (1981) whilst Linda Williams soars over the slow stepping 'No Love, No Where Without You' (1979)(from the album 'City Living'). The quality continues with the affirmative slow burn of Phyllis Hyman's 'Gonna Make Changes' (1978) and 'By Your Side' (1976) by Tower Of Power. To this you can add the superlative voices of Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Isley Brothers and Angela Bofill's 'Love Light' (2002).
So. Do you buy?
Fans of the 'Back Beats' series will already be aware that this continues to be a project informed by a love and respect for the music involved, and a genuine desire to see the music made available to a new and wider audience, whilst also rewarding the ears of the experienced connoisseur. That the Demon Music Group continues to do so at such an incredibly low price is to be applauded, particularly at a time when tangible music product is struggling against a culture of free music downloads. Ideally each 'Back Beats' album should work as a spur to explore the back catalogue of each artist involved, and for less than £5 pounds the listener gets to experience the sound of real soul.
Quality product and exceptional value for money, if you want to experience the slow pulse of serious soul then this is a fine place to start.
Highly recommended. 9/10.