GONNA GET IN THE HOT TUB!! Maceo Parker: Soul Classics, Larry Graham & Graham Central Station: Raise Up HOT TUB! HOT TUB!

One of the last connections to REAL soul music, when the sounds were supposed to be about getting up and having a party, and not stabbing someone with a knife, saxist Maceo Parker teams up with the WDR Big Band for a SMOKIN’ gig in Germany on this too hot to handle set.  Here’s a guy that was once a member of James Brown Flames, and he shows what he’s still got on as he sings and scorches on the horn on the opening burner of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” and he doesn’t let up through Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and “Higher Ground.” Some steamy Hammond B3 work oozes out during a sensuous take of Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” that makes you want to grow that Afro RIGHT BACK, while Parker’s voice on “Rock Steady” is as smooth as Benson, maybe better! This guy makes it sound so easy, but all you have to do is to listen to all of the misogynist garbage out there that passes for “soul” to know that this is up there with finding Moses in the Nile. A real discovery!

Get out  your Afro Sheen, bright paisley ties, floppy hats and wide collars and get down to some of the best feeling music you’re going to hear this year. Bassist/vocalist Larry Graham, founder of the funkified Graham Central station, is back (was he ever “gone”) with a vengeance. He looks sharp, his voice is Don Cornelius soulful and his patented bass plucking is as bodacious as ever. He returns to some old tunes of the truckin’ 70s, making every R&B song put out today seeming tired, trite and old. A few “stars” like Rafael Sadeeq and  Prince join in, but who really cares, when the star of the show is the back beat, Grambling College-styled horn section and have a party attitude that is as infectious as strep throat during Spin The Bottle.

 There’s some hot blooded percussion work on “GSC Drumline” that leads into an incessantly head bobbing “Throw-N-Down the Funk” that will get you shaking and quaking. A return to vintage material like “It Ain’t No Fun To Me” sounds as timeless as anything that Duke Ellington ever put out. A reading of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” features some gospel preaching by Ashling Cole that changes the lyrics slightly to end the torturous wheel of Karma and have the song speak of forgiveness and a final judgment and reward. Some attitudes DO change over time. As far as Graham goes, his playing is still as good as you’d ever want, and his voice puts everyone else out there to shame. Get this disc and GIT DOWN!

 Razor and Tie  Records


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