Wednesday, February 28, 2007

C.D. Review; Spanky Wilson with The Quantic Soul Orchestra- I'm Thankful (Ubiquity)

This is a strong new recording from an inter-generational collaboration. The Quantic Soul Orchestra who provide the music on this new Spanky Wilson c.d. were recruited in L.A. for a week of recording by Quantic, A.K.A. Will Holland. Holland has released numerous remixes and original projects over the last five years and is one of the more prolific new producers to have amassed so much output so far in this century.
Spanky Wilson grew up in Philadelphia, which she left for L.A. in 1967. Apart from fifteen years spent living in France, Spanky has remained in L.A. for most of her singing career. Her powerful voice on sixties songs like the rare "You" and her recently reissued 1968 cover of "Sunshine of Your Love" have endeared her to serious soul collectors for many years, but following a series of well received live performances with the Quantic Soul Orchestra, this latest outing should attract the same expanding crowd who have embraced fellow ladies of soul Bettye Lavette and Sharon Jones.
Spanky's singing is still top notch, and the playing on I'm Thankful is funky in an Earthy, spare mood. The backing tracks all feature a rock solid rhythm section pounding behind sparsely arranged horn lines and subtly embellished with some chicken scratch guitar playing. The J.B.'s are clearly being invoked throughout, especially on the two two-part songs, "Don't Joke With A Hungry Man" and "I'm Thankful", which opens and closes this disc.
"That's How It Is" is a resigned look back at Hurricane Katrina and it's ongoing aftermath. The music is almost light-hearted for such a sad song, which adds to its sense of resignation.
"I Don't Need This Trouble" is a good soul-shouter in the spirit of the ladies of James Brown's sixties revues, but the highlight on this c.d. must be "Waiting For Your Touch", with its bouncy-but-brooding sensibility.
The Quantic Soul Orchestra provide a strong, solid backing for Spanky Wilson. Funk music shouldn't be tweaked much with studio techniques which all too often either disco-fy or suck the life out of raw funk. Quantic/ Will Holland seems to appreciate this, and his production is subtle. His previous work with Sharon Jones suggests he has a good feel for the funk, and he is thankfully willing to maintain a polished sound that isn't too slick for its own good.

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