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Here you find our WEST COAST SOUL album reviews of the past and present – always subjective, but full of respect for the music and artists. Let’s talk about records!
- Soul, Funk and R&B classics from the vaults – February 2021 - Once a month we open the vaults of the WEST COAST SOUL record collection and take a look back at the classics of Soul, R&B and Funk from the 70s and 80s. Join us on a foray through a golden era of music history.
- “Discodor” by Discodor - After two excellent EPs, Anglo-French duo Discodor finally released their wonderful eponymous debut album last month, full of lush arrangements, cinematic grooves, and slow funk that oscillates between French lounge plushness, library music sophistication, and hip, swinging 60s soundtrack grandeur. An album in cinemascope.
- Review: “The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band” by Menahan Street Band - After a nearly ten-year hiatus, the legendary instrumental soul group Menahan Street Band will release their third album “The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band” on February 26th, via Daptone Records. The result is an album that you no longer expected, but now do not want to miss. Great cinematic instrumental soul-funk, with which the musical collective from Brooklyn seamlessly connects to old great deeds. Definitely one of the soul albums of the year.
- “Mid-Century Modern Romance” by Dante Elephante - A homage to the disco boogie jams of the early 80s - funky and smooth
- Album Review: “Magic Mirror” by Pearl Charles - With "Magic Mirror", LA native singer-songwriter Pearl Charles has released her second album and takes her listeners into a musical wonderland, where the 29-year-old lives out her preferences for ABBA melodies, Laurel Canyon hippie dreaminess, sun-warmed West Coast soft rock and 70's country-folk bliss. All this sounds very vintage, but never loses its current pop appeal. Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty would love this album.
- “One Step Closer” by The Doobie Brothers - When "One Step Closer" was released in 1980, critics and many fans declared the Doobie Brothers' ninth release the worst album of their career. And it was true that the Doobies were never further away from their biker boogie rock roots than at the beginning of the 80s.
- “West End Coast” by Young Gun Silver Fox - In 2015 the British singer, songwriter, producer, founder and bandleader of Mamas Gun, Andy Platts, and the American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, Shawn Lee, combined their talents, their love for melodic Californian soft rock of the late seventies and their penchant for catchy hooklines and rousing grooves on one album that nobody expected.
- “Paradise Cove” by Misha Panfilov & Shawn Lee - London-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and "Silver Fox" Shawn Lee has long been known for his boundless musicality and versatility. After recently indulging his passion for West Coast music with Young Gun Silver Fox on the superb album "Canyons" and bowing to early 80's electro funk with "Shawn Lee's Incredible Leg Warmer Band", he has now teamed up with the energetic Estonian musician and producer Misha Panfilov to set the sails of creativity and cruise to the "Paradise Cove".
- “Ports of the Heart” by Jimmie Spheeris - "Ports of the Heart" by Jimmie Spheeris was originally released in 1976 and was the fourth and last album for Epic by the American singer songwriter with Greek roots.
- “Straight From The Heart” by Patrice Rushen - The American jazz pianist, R&B singer, composer, producer and songwriter Patrice Rushen is a fixed star in the Jazz and R&B world for decades. One of my personal favorites is her 82's album "Straight From The Heart".
- “Rhythm of Life” by James Mason - James Mason was a member of Roy Ayers' legendary jazz-funk band of the late 70s. His most prominent appearance as a guitarist was in 1977 on Ayers' classic cut "Running Away". In the same year Mason recorded his debut solo album "Rhythm of Life" for the New York independent label Chiaroscuro.
- “City Pop” by Benny Sings - Dutch pop artist Tim van Berkestijn, better known by his stage name Benny Sings, shows with his album "City Pop" from 2019 that he is deeply rooted in 70s West Coast pop and one of the most talented music exports of the Netherlands.
- “The First Coming” by Twylyte ’81 - Favorite Recordings has been a guarantor for many years when it comes to releasing long lost soul, funk, jazz and West Coast gems. This February the French label released the first official and first-ever reissue of "The First Coming" by Twylyte '81.
- “Gaucho” by Steely Dan - Steely Dan's "Gaucho" is considered by many to be a megalomaniac work of two drug-fired perfectionists - and when you look at the facts, there seems to be a lot of truth in it. The album took two years to record, it devoured a thousand recording hours and over 40 studio musicians, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker spent $ 100,000 extra for the innovative processing of the drum beats - and all that for an album length of only thirty-seven minutes. If they hadn't runout of money, who knows how long they would have worked on it.
- “It Is What It Is” by Thundercat - "It Is What It Is" is probably the album I listen to most at the moment. You follow Stephen Bruner alias Thundercat on his fourth album through grief, madness, teenage humour escapades and playfulness - and you get lost or rise up in this unique, complex jazz, fusion, funk, R&B, soft rock and manga cosmos, whose only constant is the musicality of this exceptional bassist.
- “Hotel California” by The Eagles - "Hotel California" was the fifth album by The Eagles, released in 1976. Their biggest commercial success, with over 16 million albums sold in the USA alone, marked in some ways the swan song of the band and of an entire era.
- “Yacht” by Fernando Perdomo - In times when we are unfortunately restricted worldwide in our freedom of movement, the new album "Yacht" by American multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer Fernando Perdomo comes just in time to at least mentally carry us away to the palm-lined sunny beaches of California.
- “Shawn Lee’s Incredible Leg Warmer Band” by Shawn Lee - Légère Recordings has pressed 200 copies of the electro funk masterpiece "The 37 Minute Workout" by Shawn Lee's Incredible Leg Warmer Band. Let's get physical!
- “The Tales People Tell” by Kelly Finnigan - With "The Tales People Tell" the American soul singer Kelly Finnigan has released one of the best soul albums of the past years in 2019.
- “The Nightfly” by Donald Fagen (1982) - While ex-bandmate Walter Becker tried to get clean in Hawaii, Donald Fagen and Steely Dan producer Gary Katz returned to the studio to record a ground-breaking masterpiece of the new decade.
- Backtracks: “Aja” by Steely Dan -
What makes an album to a classic? I think it’s a result of many ingredients. First of all the music: strong and memorable melodies, grooves and arrangements, real musicianship, the storyline of lyrics and an outstanding production. Not to forget a remarkable artwork. But real art arises from more: All great albums are surrounded by myths and stories (remember the Beach Boys' “Smile”), especially in pre-digital times when it was even more difficult to get information about artists and records.
- The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco 2 - When Marcus Liesenfeld aka DJ Supermarkt released 'The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco' in 2016, he not only created a long overdue monument to the female singers, musicians and songwriters who played a major role in shaping the sound of California in the 70s and 80s, but also compiled one of the most popular editions of the renowned series.
- “AM Waves” by Young Gun Silver Fox (2018) - Only a few albums have impressed Yacht Rock lovers and West Coast aficionados as much in recent years as Young Gun Silver Fox's critically acclaimed debut album "West End Coast". With their sophomore album "AM Waves" Andy Platts (Mamas Gun) a.k.a. Young Gun and multi-instrumentalist and producer Shawn Lee a.k.a. Silver Fox consistently develop the unique sound of their debut album further and entice their listeners with well-crafted West Coast melodies into the heyday of the genre.