SoulCut of the Week – Mario Biondi – Be Lonely

10 08 2010

We’ve loved Mario Biondi since we heard This is What You Are back in 2006. And while it’s great to hear him working with Incognito on their recent Transatlantic RPM album, let’s not forget that Mario himself released an excellent new album this year with the diverse, soulful and jazzy, If. The cream cut off that album just has to be Be Lonely, a Barry White meets the Love Boat kind of groove, awash with Italian sophistication, circa 1976. It’s undeniably kitsch, but utterly addictive. A timeless sounding cut with sweet strings and some shockingly effective wah-wah guitar. We’ve been spinning it for the past few months and just HAD to share it. Delicious!

Oh! And as a bonus, here’s the Incognito remix of No’ Mo’ Trouble from the same album. Niceness.

It’s hard to get your mitts on a physical copy of the album, but iTunes have it, right here.


Incognito – Transatlantic RPM – Review

27 07 2010

Incognito’s new album Transatlantic RPM finds Bluey and the crew entering their fourth decade in the music industry with a studio release jam-packed with impeccably crafted soulful treats as tasty as any offered up on previous glories.

Just the idea of a new Incognito album gets me all warm and fuzzy. I’ve been listening to Bluey’s music for as long as I can remember, providing the soundtrack to so many great experiences. I don’t think I’m the only one.

However, when I heard that the first single would be a cover of Boz Scaggs’ Lowdown, I wasn’t overly excited. Okay, so two of my favourite vocalists were on the track, namely Mario Biondi and the legendary Chaka Khan, but the idea sounded unoriginal. How stupid was I to doubt Bluey? Incognito’s Lowdown is the definitive version, above the original and Sylk 130’s The Reason. Mario Biondi captures the spirit of the original vocal, but ramps up the soul quotient so that when Chaka Khan’s comes in, the tune enters classic soul territory making for a perfect, timeless and excellent opening cut.

At 16 tracks deep, Transatlantic RPM is good from start to finish, with all the Incognito stalwarts in full effect (with special mentions to vocalists Tony Momrelle and Joy Rose and co-producer, writer and keyboard player, Matt Cooper). The album differs from previous Incognito LPs by including a number of big name ‘guest’ vocalists such as Mario Biondi, Chaka Khan, John-Christian Urich of Tortured Soul, Ursula Rucker and Leon Ware. It’s testament to Bluey’s songwriting and production skills that the album still sounds wholly Incognito, however well known the guest vocalist may be.

It’s a challenge to pick out highlights with such a consistent album, but the following cuts, and the aforementioned Lowdown (featured above), are currently receiving the most attention chez SoulCuts:

1975 is a brassy, rare-groove sounding tribute to the year Bluey fell in love with music. It’s a track soul music junkies will instantly connect with, both thematically and musically (like a contemporary Music is My Sanctuary). Let’s Fall in Love Again is a string-laden dancefloor soul collaboration with Tortured Soul vocalist John-Christian Urich, complete with accomplished Benson-like scatting. The Song once again features the magnificent Chaka Khan and marries the Incognito sound to classic Rufus, creating a magical vibe that leaves you desperate for Bluey and the guys to work with Chaka on a whole album. All of my Life is a beautifully arranged ballad delivered with power and restraint from Joy Rose. Line in the Sand is the finest tune from Leon Ware since the Seventies with an exquisite string arrangement. It’s perhaps the strongest song on the whole set. And there’s more, so much more, even a Bluey lead vocal on the hypnotic groove of Tell Me What To Do!

Transatlantic RPM is a timeless soul set, maybe even Incognito’s greatest album. And that’s saying something!

It’s out in the UK on Dome and Shanchie in the US. Raid the piggy bank and tell ’em SoulCuts sent ya!

You can listen to cuts from the album over at Giant Step, and download the track, Gotta with Ursula Rucker.