Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nicole Willis and The Soul Investigators - Keep Reachin' Up

Now a confession has to be made as well as listening to all forms of reggae I also have a strong passion for soul music and in particular the Motown / Northern Soul varieties and having just been to an old scooter club reunion do, where I met up with people who I haven't seen since Noah was a boy, and only played with boats in the bath. Well this got me trawling through some of my old records and giving them a spin again.
I didn't have to travel all the way back to the 60's to find some killer cuts though, but just to 2005 and this glorious album from Nicole Willis and The Soul Investigators. I've been playing it to death and thought I should just pass on my thoughts to those of you of similar persuasions who may have not heard of this......shame on you....

Well in 1967 the Stax Review turned up in Norway, with many of the labels top draws hitting their peak. The likes of Otis, Sam & Dave, Arthur Conley and all superbly backed up by Booker T & The MG's. The sounds these fellas made must have risen up and spread across Scandinavia and before landing firmly in Helsinki, Finland (where I believe the Investigators are from) and made quite an impact, because this 60's funk, soul and R&B inspired band are as tight and tailored as one of Otis's suits! The throbbing bass line and pounding drums of fatback funk title track 'Keep Reachin' Up' would not be out of place on any of James Brown's old LP's, and when combined with Nicole's vocals are as good as any Marva Whitney, Vicky Anderson workouts.
Opening track 'Feeling Free' is an uplifting floaty, string infused tune, about the joys of dancing and along with 'If This Ain't Love' (my personal fave) and 'Four Leaf Clover' captures the spirit and vibe of Northern Soul perfectly. While 'No Ones Gonna Hold You' is a deep, deep soul almost bluesy wail with grinding organ. The rest of the songs carry that soulful, funky feel with aplomb and the whole thing closes out on the laid back almost lounge bar jazz of the 'Soul Investigators Theme'.
I did see in another review for this LP that someone commented that "lyrically it's a bit weak to say the least - "so come on over boy, don't treat me like a...toy" for example...ahem" (taken from 'My Four Leaf Clover'). Now although a valid point I do feel it somewhat misses the point of this LP, as for me this LP is about pure pleasure and hankering back to a time where music was maybe somewhat more innocent, with songs about love and simple pleasures and this innocence to me only adds to the LP's charm after all......"feeling free and spinning on the dance floor is where I wanna be"

Track List:

1. Feeling Free
2. If This Ain't Love (Don't Know What Is)
3. Keep Reachin' Up
4. Blues Downtown
5. My Four Leaf Clover
6. A Perfect Kind Of Love
7. Invisible Man
8. Holdin' On
9. No One's Gonna Love You
10. Soul Investigators Theme

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