Sunday, June 22, 2014

Peter Blakeley-The Pale Horse (1994)


Just as I love going back to the memorable world of the 80's to dig up old tunes, I love making occasional treks back to the Land Down Under to listen to some good Aussie voices—both old and new. This time, it's an old voice—old as in 'familiar', that is, and that would be of the former ROCKMELONS singer Peter Blakeley. At least, it was listening to THE ROCKMELONS where I'd gotten introduced to him—on that "Tales Of The City" album, I think it was?—then forgot about him.....for a little while. I'm vaguely aware of Pete's other music collaborations before and after his abbreviated time with Byron Jones and Deni Hines and company, but my senses are completely unclouded when it comes to his fourth and final solo album, "The Pale Horse". It's that lively funk/soul combination happening here—the funky rhythms and and Pete's deliciously soulful voice—that attracts me to the music here. Not surprising, after I peeked into his past some time ago and realized he'd been a journeyman of sorts, working alongside the likes of Eric Clapton and SIMPLY RED—two artists in particular who are well-known for their soulicious and eclectic nature. And a funny thing is, I'd even started to say that Pete sounds a lot like SIMPLY RED! It was also cool to know that Pete had also lent his vocal talent on one of my favorite Cher albums from the 80's: "Heart Of Stone". Now that I don't remember very well, so I may just have to treat myself to another nice long listen to "Heart Of Stone" for just that purpose, if not to hear all of my favorite songs from there again. Snapping back to "The Pale Horse"..... The biggest draw for me here is the opening cut, "Be Thankful For What You Got": a brilliant cover of the 1974 jazzy/r&b old-school classic originally performed by William DeVaughn that I often still hear on the urban quiet storm radio channels. Love that hook in the main chorus that goes 'diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean, whoa oh'. And I could probably stay hooked on that hook for hours! Yet there are more golden moments beyond "Be Thankful What You Got" that deserve honorable mention. Feels like you're listening to some Curtis Mayfield on "I've Been Lonely" when Pete's voice climbs to the upper levels of the octave scale. And I like that 'double voice' layering effect when he's singing the verses. The funk rhythm is hot n' spicy on "A Real Mother For Ya" (good idea to keep that instrumental groove going for almost a minute or two after the main vocals drop out near the end) while the superbly jazzed-up "How Badly" features a sublime mixture of light rock and r&b (how badly do you want to hear this song now?). The vocals, I'd say, are at their strongest when he's singing about his "Little One" on the album's fifth track, but it's a real joy listening to him on the slow number, "Funny Little World"—a bittersweet piece despite the warming melody, as the lyrics reveal the pain he feels without a special woman in his life. So saddle up, strap on your boots and take "The Pale Horse" for a ride, enjoying the breeze of good tunes along the way:

1. Be Thankful For What You Got
2. God's Little Elvis
3. I've Been Lonely
4. Ain't No Love Lost
5. Little One
6. Funny Little World
7. A Real Mother For Ya
8. How Badly
9. If You Had A Heart
10. Through The Looking Glass

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