Sunday, October 07, 2007

Roy Young Memphis

One of the problems with blogs is simply keeping up - I have been all over the place recently and have tons of projects, news, bulletins etc to post but insufficient time to compile them all. Subsequently, I miss things which I mean to write about - Roy Young's album from earlier this year is one such thing.

I was reminded that I hadn't mentioned Roy Young while reading a discussion forum so I thought I would rectify that now. Check out his website for tracks etc. Here is what my mate Dave Cole of In The Basement magazine had to say in his review:

Roy Young’s journey to Royal Studios in Memphis to work with Willie Mitchell on this cd in September 2005, started with his birth in Jamaica in 1949, a move to England at the age of 13 and a further move to Israel in 1969. While to-ing and fro-ing between Israel and the UK, he was signed to EMI in 1980 but a mooted Abbey Road Studios (London)-recorded album was never completed and Roy made Israel his permanent base. In 1997, two Australian songwriters, Gideon and Daniel Frankel met with him there and promised to contact him regarding recording. Seven years later (!) they did and arrangements were made for him to go to Melbourne to record. There, former Motown associate and by then Melbourne resident, Gil Askey, was lured out of retirement to work on the project and, on having found a US partner in Tommy Boy Records, label CEO, Tom Silverman, decided the whole thing should be rounded-off in Memphis.

This is a cd that starts off brilliantly, loses its way in the middle and then returns to the “star pick” quality that screamed out of the opening tracks. Roy has a great world-weary voice that can wail like a good ‘un on tracks like the deep and doomy ‘Don’t Call It Love’ and send shivers up the spine on the solely piano-accompanied ‘Bring In The Dawn’. Indeed, it’s the downtempo stuff that suits him best, ‘So Strange’ made fierce by Steve Potts’ drumming and the vocal support of Jackie Jackson, ‘Pie’ and Wet, Wet, Wet front-man, Marti Pellow. The voices also enhance ‘Beautiful’, a building opus enveloped by Gil Askey’s arrangement. Askey gets to spotlight on trumpet on the slightly bluesy ‘Turn Right At Midnight’, almost spoilt by Jack Jones’ rock guitar approach, while Charles Pitts and Preston Shannon lend their guitar work alongside building strings and horns on an excellent reworking of REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’. It’s tracks 4-7 that show the down side of things as omens set in from the opening guitar work of the strutting ‘Half Past July’, moving on to the heavy funky instrumentation on the semi-spoken/sung ‘The Age of Sadness’ and the rock approach taken on ‘Lamplighter’ and ‘Jambitious’.

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