Friday, February 26, 2016

SOUL BROS.-Play Me (2007)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 26, 2016

"Star Trek: Voyager" went off the air way back in 2001, but I still enjoy reruns of one of my favorite all-time science fiction television shows every now and then. And in between those every-now-and-then moments, there's always something that reminds me of that show. Case in point: the classic from the great old American song book, "You Are My Sunshine". There was an episode where a couple of the show's characters—played by actors Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan—performed that classic as a duet and performed it well. That was back in 1999. I've heard many other versions of it by various artists, but on this Friday night, seventeen years later, I finally get to hear it for the very first time in a reinvented high-energy dance format, courtesy of the awesome dance/soul duo that I've only known for a short little while that calls itself SOUL BROS. Spreading the sunshine and putting smiles on listeners' faces with their uplifting and positive music is what I gathered that these guys are all about after my first tour of listening to them on their debut appropriately called "Recycle", which contained a slew of remakes of popular hits. And besides just making me smile with the familiar lyrics and hum-along melody of their take on "You Are My Sunshine" they're spreading even more sunshine all throughout the rest of this second effort of theirs, which also has an appropriate title: "Play Me". That's exactly what I did, too—played it nice and loud for my ears to enjoy! You can bet I was all smiles when another memorable classic from my decade filled my ears right from the start on the opener, "Time Of My Life". The reggae dance bounce and the slick reggae rap breaks add some fresh spice to this golden oldie, which these SOUL BROS. handle with ease, playing the part of Bill Medley while the unknown female vocalist plays the part of Jennifer Warnes, doing the original its much-deserved justice. The smiles would stay with me as nostalgia swept over me during their remakes of a few other memorable favorites. "All Night Long": that Lionel Richie hit always puts me in a celebratory, feel-good mood.....all night long, just like the title says! The revamped disco groove works, and it's a perfect choice for this duo, considering their reggae dance style and noting now the 80's original already had that ethnic vibe going on with it. They even maintain that distinctive echo that trails off at the singing of 'let the music play on, play on play on, play on...' Nothing put pure happiness for me while taking in the duo's remake of MAZE FEATURING FRANKIE BEVERLY's 1980 disco/r&b classic, "Joy And Pain". I'd know those familiar lyrics anywhere: 'joy and pain, I like sunshine and rain'. An excellent late-night groove! Then there's the duo's fresh remake of MILLI VANILLI hit "Girl You Know It's True". Felt like old times again, digging into those old lyrics and familiar chords. Yet so many new memories were created for me as I let the music play on. The ones that I adore the most are the ones that have a sunny, happy air about them and made me smile from ear to ear, such as "Miss Centerfold" (MUCH too short, but the smooth groove, mellow tenderness of their beautiful vocals and the funky electro-reggae rap break make up for it), "Don't Blame Me" (lyrically, not too much to smile about, actually, but the pleasant flow of music on the album's first true slow soul jam gave me plenty to smile about), "I Believe In You" (the soul is warming and sweet on the album's second slow soul jam, too) and "Rain On Me" (a nice touch to have this track right after the 'rain' of "Joy And Pain", and there ain't nothing dark and cloudy about it). One thing really admired about this album is the duo's versatility in sound. Beyond the reggae bounce, the disco dance and the simmering soul, there's some refreshing contemporary pop/rock that I adored as well, pleasing my ears on "Honey Time" (their vocals are the absolute best on this beauty!) "Love Is Growing" and "Cheer Little Baby". That rock becomes unexpectedly edgy and rugged on cuts like "Jacky", which tells a suspenseful and haunting story beneath the intense rock arrangement (did I hear them talking about 'tight fetish clothes') and "Pop On The Rock", which almost sounds as if they're making like an 80's hair band with the loud banging drums. I love the one about "Joanna", too—not the KOOL & THE GANG's Joanna, but a different Joanna. Very cool production that's tribal, ritualistic, ambient and reggae rich all in one as it blossoms into a highly-addicting sing-along pleasure that I could let play on and on all night long:

1. Time Of My Life
2. Miss Centerfold
3. All Night Long
4. Still Waiting
5. Love Is Growing
6. Don't Blame Me
7. Joanna (Jamba Mix)
8. Joy And Pain
9. Rain On Me
10. Cheer Little Baby
11. Girl You Know It's True
12. Jacky
13. Honey Time
14. You Are My Sunshine
15. I Believe In You
16. One Thing
17. Dub Flava
18. Pop On The Rock

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