Will Wheaton's Old School Soul
Album Review by Dirk Binsau
Like Ronee Martin, Will Wheaton is not a newcomer and though he had had a recording contract in the early 90s with MCA and even worked on an album with David Foster in 1995 he never released an album on the major MCA.
But Wheaton realized very early if nobody wants to release your music then start your own imprint and release your music on your own. That’s what he did in late 1999 with the release of his album Consenting Adultz.
While Consenting Adultz somehow escaped me I’m glad that Wheaton's sophomore album Old School Soul did not. If you an eager reader of liner notes you may also recognize him as the co-writer of Will Downing’s Come To Me (from his Invitation Only album) or as writer of Anastacia’s Not That Kind (together with Marvin Young aka Young MC - and actually there was a very good Kerri Chandler mix available).
Though the album’s title suggests that this may be a record full of old school soul it offers more than that. In fact, this isn’t old school in the meaning of boring, heard it umpteen times and sounding dated.
On the contrary, the music here sounds fresh with a more classic and timeless sound. Take the title track for example. Old School Soul is a great midtempo soul song with Wheaton glorifying the music of all the great soul artists like Marvin, Stevie, the Isley Brothers, the Temptations or the late Luther.
And on this album Wheaton sometimes sounds very like Luther, which of course isn’t a bad thing. By the way he is supported on the song Old School Soul by Marquis ‘Hami’ Dair who also appeared on the Ronne Martin album recently.
The greatest surprise for die-hard soul fans may be Come On Everybody. Together with Eric Wikman of Deepswing fame Wheaton created a very good for-to-the-floor house song.
If you are a regular reader of jazz-not-jazz you know that deep house is nothing less than today’s uptempo soul music. But still it doesn’t happen very often that you’ll find a genuine house song on a soul album that isn’t just a remix.
What makes this album worthwhile besides Wheaton’s warm and rich voice and the simply good (often self-written) songs is the participation of fellow musicians like the afore-mentioned Marvin Young/Young MC, who co-wrote many of the songs and is also featured on the funky Heaven Tonight.
When Nobody Gave A Damn is a beautiful ballad with Bridgette Bryant Blades on lead and Peggi Blu on background vocals.
Fans of Gary Taylor (who also did a duet with Bridgette on his The Mood Of Midnight album) will love this track. David Thomas of Take 6 fame is featured as background vocalist on the mellow more acoustic
Where Are You Now, is perhaps the one song on this album that’s the most neo soul influenced here. But if you listen to Old School Soul from beginning to end -and that’s what you should do because all the songs are remarkable and it’s hard to pick a favourite - you’ll find out that it’s rather meaningless to put a sub-label like old, new or neo on the music.
It’s just great and quality soul music that Wheaton has to offer and I’m sure his music will stand the test of time.
Tracklisting of Old School Soul: 1. Old School Soul/ 2. Come On Everybody/ 3. Never Meant To Hurt You/ 4. Heaven Tonight Featuring Young MC/ 5. Satisfy/ 6. Do My Thang/ 7. When Nobody Gave A Damn Featuring Bridgette Bryant-Blades/ 8. Just Can’t Get Enough/ 9. Where Are You Now/ 10. Any Other Way/ 11.
Come On Everybody (Club Mix) | is released by Platinum Bass Records
For more infos visit willwheaton.com and cdbaby.com.
Binsau is an expert on Jazz and Contemporary Black Music. He runs, broadcasts and blogs at Jazz-not-Jazz
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