Mar 28, 2008 - 12:00 AM
The first two hits belong to the Puerto Rico-New York Latin soul cross, Bronx River Parkway. The band blasts weaving horns to an aggressive bassline in “La Valla” before switching to a sound reminiscent of Buena Vista Social Club in “Nora Se Va,” which tickles the ear with easy Spanish lyrics and a soft feminine hum.
Funk veteran Sammy Campbell's band, Tyrone Ashley’s Funky Music Machine, cranks out a couple tunes in a Motown doo wop step. “Just A Little While Longer” is a creamy song laced with happy bongos and a creepy laugh from the lead singer, not to mention an upbeat tambourine
Though Black Velvet is about the most cliché name imaginable, the band presents some pretty hip rhythm and blues. Throughout their two songs, “An Earthquake is Coming” and “Is It Me You really Love,” the bass player really stands out with corky yet refreshing lines. The vocals are strong, but not ground shaking.
“This One’s For My Baby” by El Michels Affair takes off with a cartoon-like intro and runs smack-dab into a terrific set of strings, catchy piano and a head-pumpin’ beat. Their next track, “The PJ’s,” was clean enough to attract Wu Tang’s Raekwon for a little rhyme delight.
Moving on to Lee Fields and The Expressions’ jazzy demonstrations. The lyrics of “My World” eat into politics, while the music screams for a more fitting theme, like a romantic scene out of a James Bond movie. Their next track, “Love Comes And Goes,” has a great jazz sound reinforced with an attractive chorus, perfect for a steak dinner, a glass of red wine and a divorce.
Timothy McNealy’s section opens with a cover of "What’s Going On," Marvin Gaye’s quintessential song of the sixties. Too much cooing and a back-up singer that rings of 1950s pop. His next jingle, “I’m So Glad You’re Mine,” is a little better, but that scratchy old record sound has got to go.
The last track, The Fabulous Three’s “Odyssey Revised,” is a fun jumper, opening with heavy, playful bass and cleaning up with drawling horns. Like many of the songs on the CD, it’s great if you enjoy a hot-stepping jazz dance or if you need an appropriate soundtrack to staring into your aquarium full of fish.
Dylan Silver is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco.