Tom Glide & the Luv All-Stars – In the Name of Luv – Review

3 10 2010

In the Name of Luv is the brainchild of fellow Frenchmen, Tom Glide and Patrick Smadja. Years ago, as students, the two promised one another that they would one day record an album with a bunch of Earth, Wind & Fire musicians. Fast-forward a few years and Tom Glide has assembled his dream team (including RahmLee, Larry Dunn, James Gadson and a whole host of top-brass soul luminaries) to produce the most joyous album I’ve heard this year. It’s an unabashed love letter to the classic American soul sounds of the early eighties, replete with punchy horns, sweet strings, real musicians and a truckload of fantastic tunes.

The album kicks off in fine style with the punchy Get It Off, a spirited dancefloor groove, replete with a sterling arrangement and some impressive horns centre-stage. It’s an A-grade cut that’s wholly representative of the overall quality of the project.

Get It Off

There’s nothing showy about any of the arrangements here, no long solos or musical masturbation, everything fits together in support of the song and the groove. And that groove takes for its inspiration the music of EWF, Quincy Jones and the more sophisticated dancefloor soul of the late 70s/early 80s. Although it’s far from simply being a collection of retro-soul, In The Name of Luv accurately distils its influences to create an album that sounds like a lost Earth, Wind & Fire record. It magically captures the spirit of first discovering EWF or The Dude; recalling a time when music sent a shiver down your spine.

What’s Your Fantasy

What’s Your Fantasy is an exemplary slice of soulful disco that deserves to be a huge. It’s a real step-up from the proto-disco Jamiroquai has been releasing over the past ten years, showing how it should be done, not skimping on the soul for the sake of the groove. I’m Crazy drops the tempo for a beautiful Philly-styled ballad complemented by a lush, romantic string arrangement that recalls Larry Gold’s excellent Don Cello & Friends album (check Bunny Sigler’s Can I from that album!). Along with the title track, it’s one of only two ballads on the album, both delivered with style and finesse by Orlando Johnson.

I’m Crazy

The horn led Fanfare segues into Can You Feel It, another tight groove propelled by a superior funky horn arrangement and some storming percussion. The quality just does not let up on this album. There is not one poor track. Even the slightly cheesy title and one-dimensional lyrics of Kool Party can’t hold things back, delivering another absolute belter of a jam; a superior slice of Saturday night soul!

The absolute stand out cut is Love is Coming Up. It’s hard to single out particular tracks for attention on such a consistently excellent album, but this track has now taken the top spot in the SoulCuts 2010 chart. The horn and vocal arrangements on this track are stellar, sending a shiver up the spine. The intro is masterful, a little synth, some scat vocals and the track builds, bringing in bass and drums before driving forward with those punchy horns. There’s a subtlety to the track that brings to mind that sophisticated late 70s/early 80s sound you’d usually associate with a Norman Connors or Quincy Jones production. Yes, it’s that good.

Love is Coming Up

In the Name of Luv ends with the title track, a stretched out romantic ballad with Orlando Johnson on lead vocals. It’s a wonderfully smooth end to the album with a restrained horn arrangement and delicate keys. A subtle track on which to end an album full of energy, spirit and passion.

This album shines brightly as an absolute labour of love. It transports the listener to a better place. It may not be a revolution in sonic terms, or songwriting. Some may even view it as not being particularly progressive for soul music, but I’d argue the case that this is exactly the kind of music we need to be hearing right now, born out of love for the genre with an expressed desire to entertain, move and delight the audience.

In the Name of Luv may be the successful realisation of a long-held dream for its creators, my only hope is that it’s a recurring dream and that this soulful troupe continue to make music together for many years to come. Please, don’t delay, go grab a copy of this album now and enrich your soul! A physical copy will be out sometime in the future on the excellent Expansion label, but you can currently download it at iTunes, quick, jump to it!

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13 10 2010

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