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Non-Prog CD Reviews


Funk Fellows

Review by Gary Hill

Well, with a title like that you have to expect this to include funk, right? It sure does, but that’s just one piece of the picture. I love the multiple layers of vocals we get a lot of the time. The horn section also adds a lot. All in all, this is a killer album that varies things a lot from track to track. It’s great mainstream stuff.

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Track by Track Review
Let Love Take Control

Opening with some killer funk, we’re off and running in style here. The multi-layered vocal arrangement is tasty and the horn section adds a lot of character to the piece. In a lot of ways, though, the bass line really drives this beast. At times this seems to get into almost fusion territory.

Funk Fellows
Retro keyboards open this before the whole band joins back in for more funk. This isn’t as high energy as the previous one, but it just plain oozes cool. The horn section is again an important part of the mix. This doesn’t (except for a few short movements) have the multiple layers of vocals like the opener did, but it does include a very jazz-oriented instrumental section.
Vienna Holiday
There’s some reggae in the mix as this opens. That mode is enhanced as it continues. The chorus includes the multiple vocal layers. While this works out towards more jazzy sounds later in the piece, that reggae rhythm remains and there are some reggae style vocals in the piece, too. That’s particularly true of the reggae rap section.
Wanna Hold Ya
Here we get a slower, soulful number. It features some falsetto vocals and still manages to showcase the funk, despite the more low-key arrangement. This is very retro in style and very tasty. I really love the retro sounding keyboard solo later and the melodic, jazzy guitar soloing.
Take 'em to the Places
Funky jazz is clearly the order of business here. There is a disco bass-line based section mid-track and the multiple layers of vocals and horn section add a lot to this tune. There’s a rap later in the tune, too.
Rock the Night
The horn section plays a big part here and this is kind of one part James Brown and one part Spyro Gyra. There’s a cool scorching guitar solo set in the middle of this thing.
I've Got It Bad
Funk and jazz merge on this mellower tune. There are some hints of reggae at times, but overall this is sort of a soulful ballad.
Strange Island
There’s a bit of an electronic music vibe here, but overall it’s a fairly stripped down arrangement with a reggae beat and some jazz in the mix. Frankly, it’s the weakest cut here and just not all that special.
New Pearl
Here’s some more smoking jazz funk with a great horn section.
This is party funk, a bit like a jazzier version of Parliament Funkadelic.
When You're in Fear
We get more funk music here. This is one that seems a little too weird to work all that well. That’s mostly in the electronic kind of vibe that’s in place here. The instrumental section later, though, does manage to elevate this beast a bit.
The Button
There is a bit of a mysterious element to this cut. It’s kind of mellow space rock and while weird, is very cool. If the whole disc were like this, it would fit under the “progressive rock” heading.
Whatever It Takes
This smooth, mellow jam reminds me a lot of Spyro Gyra. It’s a good tune, but I think that after the last cut, and particularly as the final shot, a more high energy number would have worked better.
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