This collection brings together artists from all over the world who share a love of classic 60s/70s soul, jazz and funk. It’s deceptively titled really and you can imagine a Northern soul fan or a fan of contemporary R&B thinking, “There’s nothing on here for me,” but the guys at Freestyle obviously have a very traditional and broad view of what soul is.
Many tracks take the form of 70s style funky jazz instrumentals, like those of the Delicious Allstars, Mighty Showstoppers, Renegades Of Jazz and the Andy Tolman Cartel, and you’d be forgiven for expecting to see the opening credits of some long forgotten cop show running alongside them. Most work well, but aren’t earth shattering. In other places, the dedication to authentic, vintage sounds works less well; Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra add nothing new to the four decade old Fela format, Nick van Gelder’s Raydio-style inclusion suffers from dreadful lyrics and a botched attempt at Curtis’s falsetto and Speedometer’s effort, again, holds a weak vocal line and lyrics, blighting what is a very promising production. Los Charly’s Orchestra also manage to make Donald Byrd sound raw, gritty and edgy.
There are some quirky gems on here though, such as the lounge jazz of Frootful’s ‘Colours’, which is reminiscent of Gabor Szabo, The Qualitions ‘Kekfeny’ funky jazz, which is just the right side of warped and The Killer Meters, who don’t bring anything new to the table, but supply a sterling funk effort that reminds a little of Betty Davis.
Not that much in the way of a standout soul vocal then, which would be extremely disappointing, were it not for the inclusion of Jo Stance’s ‘Hey Girl’ which is simply a monster cut, its delicate vocals and similarly understated guitar line evocative of Mary Ann Farra’s great LP for Brunswick. It would be worth anyone’s time to check this album for this track alone.