Friday, January 1, 2016

FAB 4 SOUL-Four Men Four Voices (2008)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 1, 2016

Well here's a fabulous way to kick off the new 2016 year! My seventh after-Christmas present to myself comes with—already—the year's very first 'Music Mystery Of The Day' (in what I am sure will be a year filled with music mysteries) as well as the year's very first 'Music Surprise of The Day' (and there's sure to be a ton of those before 2016 draws to a close). Let's start with the mystery half first; for us cyber-sleuths, this is one case that might be a bit hard to crack. As with so many artists in recent months, my discovery of the vocal quartet that calls itself FAB 4 SOUL was the result of a bit of music exploration into a male Filipino vocal group I had become interested in a day or so ago, as I'd momentarily shifted back to the OPM circuit for my music listenings. FAB 4 SOUL quite literally popped up instead of the group I was actually seeking, whose name I've since forgotten altogether. Was it a sign that FAB 4 SOUL was somebody my ears needed to hear? I'll answer that question shortly. Meanwhile, I'm not exactly sure who these guys are nor where these four gentlemen come from, but I suspect they might be from either Germany or Belgium, considering that all information regarding their only known full-length studio album, "Four Men Four Voices", and the label from which it was released, connects me to a number of various German music databases. And as for the surprise, well, it's not a mystery at all as to why I suddenly adore these FAB 4 SOUL guys and the tunes they've brought with them! Besides being wowed by their fabulous voices, which happened the moment I took in their great cover of DAKOTA MOON's "Another Day Goes By" (and it's been ages since I've even heard the great DAKOTA MOON original), and their lively, adult contemporary pop/rock sound (which sounds quite similar to that of DAKOTA MOON actually), I got all sorts of excited when I heard them performing the DOOBIE BROTHERS hit, "What A Fool Believes". Despite their more mellow, slowed-down acoustic approach, which contrasts drastically with the dancey, twinkly production of the Michael McDonald-led original, it's still nice on the ears—very nice for those of us who forever remain nostalgic about my favorite decade! The 80's—and more surprises—come back to life many times afterwards. First, there's the alternatively smooth, r&b-groovy interpretation of Don Henley's "Boys Of Summer". Took me a moment to get used to not hearing that familiar peppy rock spirit and voice of the legendary EAGLES, but it all stuck to me eventually. Spunky and funky with a sprinkle of smooth r&b is their remake of the James Ingram/Michael McDonald collaboration, "Yah Mo Be There"; what an awesome way to bring a song from the past up to contemporary music standards! Their amazing take on the haunting MIKE & THE MECHANICS golden oldie, "The Living Years", starts off in the most unexpected manner: an epic, majestic orchestral movement before that signature melody and rhythm from the 80's original sweeps in! Michael McDonald is paid tribute a second time when the guys cover "Sweet Freedom", one of the best upbeat soul jams of he 80's, that main chorus always getting me in that nostalgic mood. Then without the doubt THE #1 highlight for me on this album personally, one that I had been so excited about listening the instant I saw it in this album's track-listing, is their fabulous "Tribute To Toto", where they perform a live medley of "Rosanna", "Africa" and "Hold That Line"—three of my favorite TOTO hits performed seamlessly in that exact order! Of course, a complete recording of each one—or just a complete TOTO tribute album altogether!—would've been nice, but the fact that they even had the notion to revive this trio of memorable hits is just fabulous in itself! The guys do show some love for the other decades as well. Bringing back the Motown with such classics as "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", paying tribute to STEELY DAN with "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (a song I'm not too familiar with, but now find them remarkable upon hearing them in this different light) and even going back to the early part of this New Millennium with Michael Bublé's "Home", which is the best covers of that touching ballad I've heard to date:

1. Another Day Goes By
2. What A Fool Believes
3. I heard It Through The Grapevine
4. Sweet Freedom
5. Rikki Don't Lose That Number
6. Boys Of Summer
7. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
8. Home
9. Yah Mo Be There
10. Fragile
11. Hello Again
12. Tribute To Toto: Rosanna / Africa / Hold The Line
13. The Living Years
14. Angels

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