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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Tuesday, 28 May 2019 04:02

Sons Of Slum - Music Is The Message

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The album that almost never was, is.

As I read the cover liner notes, I was astounded by the sheer talent that oozed from this band. Many of the members played 2 or more instruments (Maurice Bell, Kevin Rowan). So why have they not been catapulted into stardom like the supergroup Earth Wind & Fire?

This is a journey of travesty, injustice and some bad luck. But there is a knight in shining armour. 

Sons of Slum's talent was spotted early when they were known as the Supersonics, before their name change and signing to Gamma Records. This was followed by a signing to Stax. However, the collapse of Stax left the band in limbo and frustrated.

It is not until Cordial Recordings came to the rescue this previously unreleased album made its way out of the darkness; the label owner, Roual Galloway, who manages the internationally acknowledged Love Vinyl record store in Islington, re-energised this great album.

Music is the Message has been rescued from the deep space of lost music. 

For me, I am glad musical astronauts such as Roual made it his mission to explore the vast space of music and rescue these grooves from the clutches of the black hole hidden deep in the milky way.

The album has grown on me. It has gone super-nova.

This album has it all. That soul, funk and disco feel. This music transcends the era of Studio 54 to today's Northern Soul scene.

Get Your Thing Together has one of thickest bass lines. This track is buried with a great vocal hook and a sublime lead guitar solo. This could be mistaken for an early Earth Wind & Fire release. An exemplary piece of funk!

The title track Music is the Message is a swift up-tempo ‘four-to-the-floor’ dance rhythm, and the pure talent of the musicians is showcased. The horn section is solid and electrifying, yet fluid. The phrasing is tight!

Listen to Music is the Message here:

Every high energy album needs a push, and for me, it is Funky Music Part One. This has that Northern Soul Feel and certainly deserves a limited 7" release for the Hardcore ‘Mod’. Dominated by the simplistic 8-bar chorus, you could dance for an eternity listening to this mighty track.  

It is refreshing to hear music with no digital effects and a balanced mix of instruments with great vocals.

Overall the album is very well arranged, even, for its time. This collection has a distinctive soul groove, harmonising choruses, and memorable lyrics.

Finally, I have to admit the production is tight for a 70's recording and holds its own against much of the factory churned music of today. Every contributor to this album is extraordinarily talented, and collectively the group conjures a feeling of positivity. 

Keep digging and support the revival!

 

Credits:  

Wade Allen Jr. (Guitar)

Maurice Bell (Trumpet & Drums)

Daktari (Congas)

Derrick P. Jackson Jr, (Piano & Keyboards)

Darnell McCoy (Saxophone)

Gregory Moore (Bass & Guitar)

Walter Thigpen (Trumpet)

Kevin D Rowan (Drums, Guitar & Keyboards) 

Label: Cordial Recordings

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