Friday, 6 May 2011
REVIEW: RAPHAEL SAADIQ-STONE ROLLIN'
The stone cold Saadiq keeps rollin' out the classics.
Even before Raphael Saadiq released the literally classic, every track perfect, just like old times, Motown revival, 'itunes Album Of The Year'; 'The Way I See It' in 2008 he was already a legend. Between writing and producing timeless Rhythm and Blues for his contemporaries and taking it back with some real super groups (Toni! Tony! Tone! and Lucy Pearl) Saadiq also released some great modern day Neo-Soul, solo albums ('Instant Vintage' and 'Ray Ray') which spawned gems including 'Still Ray', 'Be Here', 'Blind Man', 'Different Times' (with T-Boz's tender loving care on the verses) 'Rifle Love', (a little super-group reunion, super-song) 'Detroit Girl' and many more. Still 'The Way I See It' really was an instant vintage album that redefined music and the homage of the good ol' days (check out the vinyl worthy, cracking 'Vintage Trouble' for further inspiration). With that album Ray, Ray went from neo-soul star to soul legend and now with this more blues and rock and roll album Raphael Saadiq is moving into legendary territory for music as a whole.
On his last album Raphael showed he could channel soul legends like Sam Cooke on 'Stone Rollin'' he shows he can switch stations to rock legends like Chuck Berry with relative ease, all whilst maintaining his own integrity being still Ray, Ray. The albums title track is the perfect example of this. A vintage blues, rock and roll number dripping with soul from the harmonicas to the funky drum-beat and bass line. As for the other singles, the song 'Radio' is the kind of song that should be played more on this type of medium today. It's typical, traditional guitar music of the 60's as Saadiq dons his thick black glasses to show Buddy Holly is just as an inspiration to him as Marvin Gaye is. While the epic, story-telling 'Good Man' and it's video take a leaf out of the directors book of Pharaoh Monch's latest 'Clap' clip. Real recognises real too as Saadiq's imagination is as vivid as Monch, a true hip-hop spokesman.
Speaking of epic songs, the big closer, 'The Answer' (and the hidden track in this nine minute bonus buster) is unquestionably one of the best recordings this man has put on wax. As vintage as vinyl it's a few scratches away from being the deepest cut Raphael has ever dropped the needle on. Then again if you haven't noticed the concept of 'Day Dreams' beforehand you must be sleeping. "Am living on day dreams/I'm gonna buy me something afford" Saadiq sings over a toe tapping line of base that Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash would be proud of. As this album carries on it keeps producing classic after classic like it's predecessor. 'Movin' Down The Line' is another track lost amongst the greats but still a true find. It's soul satisfying and instantly gratifying, a firm favourite.
The atmospheric, introspection 'Go To Hell' is heavenly, standing next to Saadiq's 'Sometimes' as thought-provoking songs with serious, sincere depth. While the upbeat, 'Heart Attack' is a killer track that will pump pure energy through any dance chamber. While the love red passion of 'Just Don't' beats on, doing it in more ways then one. The guitar opening sounds like we're about to hear Sixpence None The Richer's 'Kiss Me' but instead we are treated to the goodbye kiss laments of a poor characters broken up loss of love. It's an honest, heartfelt, humbling homage which shows that Raphael can write sad songs as well as he writes love songs and still maintain his trademark, upbeat tone. Then as Saadiq moves on he takes it higher with 'Over You'. Ray, Ray will have you from the hello of the first beat, in a complete upbeat classic that is some of the best two minutes of music you'll hear all year...or for more to come.
The singer with the best live show in music, brings timeless jams to today live in living colour, redefining music with another perfect set. Pulling a Common or Alicia Keys, the soul man follows a stellar classic with another. 'The Way I See It' may be Raphael Saadiq's most positive, career-defining album but 'Stone Rollin'' is his most dynamic and diverse. Even with darker and more thought-proking themes Saadiq still keeps the good times rolling with songs from the good ol'days. Moving through soul to rock, Ray, Ray rolls through the classics creating classic song across the board. Taking more musical gambles it all pays off. Saadiq brings old-school music to the modern-day educating the mainstream. With a confident roll of the dice Raphael hits the musical jackpot with songs tailored for the jukebox. TIM DAVID HARVEY.