Slim Ali and the Hodi Boys
70s Soul! (Arc Music EUCD 2517 )
Misleading title, but easily forgivable because the record is fantastic. This item is supposed to be representative of the soul music sound of the ’70s, particularly that of Stax Records in Memphis, “the voice of black America,” according to the marquee outside that label’s building in its heyday. Further, this item is supposed to give us that sound through the talents of a band based in Nairobi, Kenya. Well, it does that latter, but there’s little content evocative of Stax or any subgenre of mainstream soul music whatsoever. By “little,” I mean just the horn section parts.
What it sounds like, delightfully, is Traffic, the great experimental Britrock band of the late ’60s and early ’70s. That’s a good thing, because Traffic was that different flavor in rock that let us think, look around and have our own experiences amidst the loud insistences of Cream, Hendrix, Zeppelin et al that the world move and shake to their grooves only. Anything positive one can say about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Traffic, one can say about this collection from Slim Ali and the Hodi Boys. Exactly. Precisely. You can put this CD on, play just about any song, and tell a friend just arriving that it’s a bootleg or newly discovered Traffic record, and that friend will believe you. Slim Ali’s voice and phrasing are the voice and phrasing of gifted young Steve Winwood.
That this release is as it is, is actually better than a good thing, because Traffic didn’t put out enough records to satisfy those who appreciated them, and here is another chance, curiously packaged as a Memphis soul-style record. On second and ongoing listens, one finds another big plus to the record.
The songs all make sense, lyrically, and that feature was not a consistent priority for Traffic. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and that was perfectly acceptable for the rock of Traffic’s time, but all these years later, one notices that it is much easier to remember the words to songs that make sense.
If you will do yourself and your household and friends the kindness of adding “70s Soul!” to your music collection, I believe you will be finding it easy to sing along with these 15 slow-to-mid-tempo deep spacey grooves, framed as they are by tremendous organ, bass, percussion and Memphis-y horn parts decades into the future.
Buy 70s Soul! in North America
Buy 70s Soul! in Europe
Author: Arthur Shuey
Arthur has been reviewing music for publications since 1976 and began focusing almost exclusively on world music in 2012.
His musical background includes past presidencies of the Cape Fear Musicians Association and Blues Society of the Lower Cape Fear, founding membership in nine other blues societies, service on 17 music festival planning committees, two decades of teaching harmonica to individuals and groups, operating a small recording studio and performing solo and in combos for 30 years.
Arthur has written professionally since 1975, pieces ranging from short fiction to travel articles, humor to poetry, mainly for local and regional entertainment media. His blog,” Shuey’s World,” is featured at www.accesswilmington.com.