Wednesday, December 2, 2015

SOUL BROS.-Recycle (2004)


Environmentally-minded people like myself are always doing their part to keep things out of the trash that can be reused again and again. Aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard, old newspapers, biodegradable plastic containers, batteries and, in my case, compost-bound garden trimmings—they all have some reusable value. I work under a similar principle when it comes to music, either constantly digging up old CD's and albums that may have been left to be forgotten forever or just listening to those timeless golden oldies from decades ago over and over again. In the case of the latter, I've come across countless like-minded artists who are, in essence, keeping the oldies alive and out of the dumpsters of music forgetfulness, the latest being the obscure duo that called itself SOUL BROS. Why 'obscure'? Because I know absolutely nothing about these guys: where they're from, their nationality, their producers, their music background..... Yep—they're yet another unsolved mystery in the string of music mysteries that I've been investigating since I've started blogging. Coincidentally, the one who generously gifted me SOUL BROS.'s presumed debut album, "Recycle", had discovered this duo accidentally just as I had, their name appearing during one of my most recent Europop explorations through an online music database. I could take a stab and guess that they're from Germany or Belgium? They definitely got that Western European pop production going on with all of these memorable hits they chose to 'recycled' from the past, a spirited reggae vibe sprinkled in here and there for a little added revitalizing flavor! Can't be exactly sure just how many remakes of the Etta James classic, "I'd Rather Go Blind", has graced my ears during my lifetime, but this upbeat, contemporary SOUL BROS. version, with its funky, electronic kick and the reinvented voice breaks, is totally fresh! Played it at least three times (over the course of the hour plus I stayed tuned in to this album) and had even skipped down to hear the warming island flow of its remixed 'Acoustic Version' before my ears had taken on anything else. Perhaps I should've saved some of those replays for the jams that were soon to follow, starting with their remake of LeVERT's "Casanova". My heart was over-flowing with excitement once the music started playing on this one; it's another childhood favorite of mine from the 80's with my forever-standing favorite line being 'me and Romeo ain't ever been friends'. The production is what especially grabbed me: an eclectic mix of reggae breaks, rock guitars, techno riffs and a bumpin' r&b bounce. Never expected I'd hear a modern-day version of the familiar 60's rock n' roll classic "Twist & Shout". So different hearing it in this reinvented, slower-tempo r&b format, but it works and it sounds really cool! It's always a bright and sunny say whenever I hear somebody singing Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now"; my day is even brighter when the production of the music itself dazzles my ears—the funky rhythm and spurts of techno synthesizing in the case of this SOUL BROS. version. I knew I'd heard "The Way To Your Heart" somewhere; once the chords and the lyrics got my attention, I determined it was the same hit song previously recorded back in the 80's by the Belgian pop duo SOULSISTER, whose music I've become quite fond of within the past few years. And that's what really prompted me to draw up my suspicions about this mystery duo being of the same nationality. Never expected, either, to hear a techno remake of the traditional gospel hymn, "Amen" (definitely a fun way to 'recycle' religious music!), but not surprised at all to hear them giving the glitzy Eurodance treatment to Ben E. King's "Stand By Me", which I've been hearing lots and lots of dance remakes of over the past couple of years. I can say the same about THE MANHATTANS' "Kiss And Say Goodbye"; I've heard so many modern-day versions of that classic in just this 2015 year alone that I've lost count! The title is slightly different, but it's still the same golden oldie "Baby, I Love Your Way" representing the album's eighth track. I'll always love WILL TO POWER's 80's original and BIG MOUNTAIN's purely reggae 90's remake, but this fresh, spirited Europop reworking by this SOUL BROS. duo has some saying power, too! I didn't recognize all of these 'recycled' songs, however: first the trip-hop jams "Life Is Hard" and "Missing You"; then the groovy Eurodisco cuts "Don't Look Any Further", "Girl's Trap" (quite festive and fun, this one is, especially with the humorous story being told through the slick rhymes and raps) and, my new-found favorite, "Baby What's Your Number?" (I love that opening fade in before the beat explodes into full-on effect, the music becoming infectious when the lyrics from the main chorus that goes 'you've got the moves, you've got that style' begins looping endlessly). So whether you listen to this "Recycle" album only once or listen to it a thousand times, take care in leaving it out of the recycle bin, because one person's trash really is another person's treasure:

1. I'd Rather Go Blind
2. Casanova
3. Twist & Shout
4. Life Is Hard
5. I Can See Clearly Now
6. The Way To Your Heart
7. Reggae Night
8. Oh Baby I Love Your Way
9. Missing You
10. Don't Look Any Further
11. Baby What's Your Number?
12. I'd Rather Go Blind (Acoustic Version)
13. Girl's Trap
14. Amen
15. Stand By Me
16. Kiss And Say Goodbye

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