Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward - Music! Music! Music!, album review

Funky Cigarette

I am going to start with total honesty – though I am always honest with my reviews – but I didn’t know what to expect with this, unaware of either artists [no matter how much music you know, you cannot know everything/everyone, obviously], yet write-ups were good. Then there was the album title: rather simplistic. And I know a thing or two about the power of three, but this repetition of the obvious didn’t inspire a sense of there being inspiration.

Then I wasn’t sure I could get past the first track, a cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s Soul of Man. I mean, it is that good: the funky percussiveness of the guitar work [with punchy bass and drums in perfect step] and occasional startling runs; also the singing, its soulful sultriness and sass. Where could this go any better?

By the third track, Nina Simone’s Plain Gold Ring, it is sustaining the superlatives I haven’t yet used but you can hear them, surely? A slower groove, percussion and bass gently rhythmic, and the guitar cuts in and out, interrupting the smoother vocal with its demands, the two in perfect co-existence. You wait for the explosion, just after the bass rises along a key change, and barely held fuzzed picks are prone to strike, reverb holding it in check. Then it releases, controlled, again percussion in sweet accompaniment: plain gold ring returns to sooth in the other controlling emotion of vocal.

Then there’s Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song so soulfully funked in its origins it doesn’t seem transcendable. It isn’t, but it is complemented with the by-now perfection of this duo’s [with support] tight interpretations. Hunter’s guitar here goes a little more expansive, but funkiness is a core motivation. The vocal’s intentions are more than still good.

Wishing Well? Terence Trent Darby. Really [a song imbued with its own soul and f... – you know the word]? Actually, this tones it down a tad, but continues to work, Woodward here stages the distinctiveness of the cover.

There’s blues too and the whole is its own perfection. The final track is Teresa Brewer’s (Put Another Nickel In) Music, Music, Music [Bernie Baum / Stephan Weiss], inverted here and now I know the significance of the album’s title, though by this time I have worked that out by being so convinced in the listening. This is in fact the most sedate, a relative term, and in one sense ‘faithful’ cover. I think it is like having that cigarette afterwards.

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