R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Concord Music Group

Concord Black History Month Sampler


Black History Month serves as a crucial reminder of the countless invaluable contributions made by African-Americans, politically, scientifically, creatively, culturally, and beyond.  At Concord Music Group, we're quite familiar with (and especially grateful for) all of the unforgettable musical marks made.  To help celebrate Black History Month, Concord is thrilled to offer "Roots & Rhythm," a sampler showcasing stellar performances by Isaac Hayes, Dianne Reeves, The Dramatics, Booker T, Miles Davis, and more.  You can join the celebration and visit our Roots & Rhythm page for your free download of the Concord Black History Month sampler.

Concord Music Group

Dianne Reeves, Beautiful Life—Available Now


Four-time GRAMMY winner Dianne Reeves has released Beautiful Life, her eagerly anticipated first album in five years.  New to the Concord Records imprint, yet established as one of the classiest vocalists around, Reeves powerfully sustains her genre-defying tradition with elements of jazz, contemporary R&B, classic soul, modern pop, and vintage funk.  Through her two sublime originals, "Cold" and "Satiated (Been Waiting)," along with covers by Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, and Ani DiFranco, Reeves covers a lot of musical ground—and incorporates a lot of talent, too.

Beautiful Life features an A-list supporting crew, including production by Terri Lynne Carrington and musical appearances by Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper, and George Duke.  A soulful and sophisticated rendering with a sweet, sexy, and celebratory underlying tone, Beautiful Life is an inspiring affirmation not to be missed.

Chris Slawecki

Close To You


Search the Concord website for "Burt Bacharach" and the engine returns no results. But the brilliance of his collaborative songwriting with lyricist Hal David, especially in the 1960s and early '70s, shines throughout this catalog.

Lushly remade, "Walk on By" kicks off Isaac Hayes' solo breakout Hot Buttered Soul (Stax, 1987, and now available on vinyl, too). But it was (much) differently addressed by saxophonist Sonny Stitt on Soul Classics (Original Jazz Classics, 1991), was reinvented by the Wynton Kelly Trio on Full View (OJC, '96), and also turned up on Brothers-4 (Prestige, 2005), which marks the last time that soulmates Don Patterson and Stitt recorded together.

"Close to You" was addressed opulently by Hayes on Black Moses (Stax, '89) and tastily by Ella Fitzgerald on Ella A Nice (OJC, '90), but also appears on funky Prestige Legends of Acid Jazz compilations from Houston Person ('96) and Leon Spencer ('97), and was more smoothly rendered by Gerald Albright (Pushing the Envelope [Heads Up, 2010]).

Hayes also surveys "The Windows of the World" Live At The Sahara Tahoe (Stax, '89) and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" appears on Quartets & Orchestra (Milestone, '89), which compiles the last two albums that pianist-composer Bobby Timmons recorded for Milestone.

Plus there's Dionne Warwick's retrospective My Friends & Me (Concord, 2006), where the primary voice of these and other Bacharach-David classics revisits them in the company of old friends and new, including Gladys Knight, Angie Stone and other vocal contemporaries.

David Shannon

Thoroughly Good


Move It On Over, George Thorogood's second studio album, released on Rounder Records in 1978, is an all-covers affair that brought renewed attention to Bo Diddley's classic "Who Do You Love?" and the title track, written by Hank Williams. The tendency for Thorogood to cover blues classics started on his first album, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, which features three Thorogood originals as well as tunes by Diddley, Elmore James, Robert Johnson, and John Lee Hooker. In this sense, Thorogood seems to live up to his namesake, thoroughly exploring the blues while giving standard songs an authentic feel.

Move It On Over contains a slew of other well-known covers, including James' "The Sky Is Crying," T.J. Arnall's "Cocaine Blues," and Chuck Berry's "It Wasn't Me," but it's Thorogood's guitar that imbues the album with authority. His '50s-era Chicago, electric blues style of playing perfectly suits the covers on the album and channels greats of the past like Diddley, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Dawkins.

There will be a few surprises on the album for those who haven't heard it in its entirety, such as the last track, a take on James' "New Hawaiian Boogie," which allows Thorogood to dig into the frets with some dirty blues leads. In addition, Thorogood's cover of James Moore's "I'm Just Your Good Thing" dials back the volume and energy for an interlude of swaying, slowly swinging Chicago blues.