Title - 'Brit Eyed Soul'
Artist - Billy Valentine
One of the most renowned and influential voices of our time, not to mention the soulful voice heard in Sons Of Anarchy as well as the theme song of Boston Legal, now brings forth this superb tribute to Britain's most celebrated songwriters.
From The Stones to The Beatles, The Clash to Elvis Costello - you've never heard these songs sound as good as when Billy Valentine reinterprets them with a dramatically soulful twist.
For those not in the know, Billy Valentine was one half of The Valentine Brothers, an American recording act in the late 1970s and 1980s. Comprising himself and his brother John, they didn't set the charts alight, but one of their biggest hits, as singers and songwriters, was 'Money's Too Tight (To Mention)' - which reached #41 in the R&B chart in 1982 and was later recorded with greater worldwide success by Simply Red.
1. 'Beast of Burden'
2. 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me'
3. 'How Long'
4. 'More Than a Woman'
5. 'Holding Back the Years'
6. 'Watching the Wheels'
7. 'Here, There and Everywhere'
8. 'First Cut Is the Deepest'
9. 'Train in Vain'
10. '(I Guess That's Why) They Call It the Blues'
11. 'Roll with It'
12. '(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding'
Now, in all truth, whether the fact I'm British has something to do with my adoration for this new album from Billy or not, it has to be said that I have now played it four (4) times, completely through each time. Oh, and people in the office are asking to take it so they can listen to it on their journey home!
Having come to life via Indiegogo, a website where entrepreneurial projects come to life, amplified by a community of backers who believe the world benefits when every idea gets a crowdfunding service as backing, it raised $11,740 USD via 70 backers. Having now come to life as a CD, for my money Brit Eyed Soul is, simply put, one of the best albums of 2017.
So, the man who was born two days after Valentine's Day on the 16th February, and who has always stated that his music has always been about the love, kicks off this richly beautiful album with The Rolling Stones cut, 'Beast Of Burden' A soulful, gentle blues sway of a cover, it's just perfect musical fodder to get your appetites wet for more. The next two songs he makes his own, in a way that I never expected to hear before. His soulful blues vocals wrap themselves lovingly around the Culture Club hit 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me' and that's backed by one of my own personal favorites on this album, 'How Long'. Originally a 1974 hit by Ace, Billy tackles both this and the former as if they were his own originals.
Next up is a beautiful Bee Gees cover of 'More Than A Woman' and that's followed by one of his own hits from 1966, made famous by Simply Red in 2009, 'Holding Back The Years.' Having fully admitted that he and his studio musicians went through 60 or 70 songs to get the right fit for this album, one I'm personally glad this next one made the grade. John Lennon's 'Watching The Wheels' is a pure, unadulterated pleasure to listen to at any time, but now Billy twists and turns it a little and wow, these new soulful layers make this track something fresh.
The mid tempo ballad 'Here, There and Everywhere' is a sweet rendition of the Beatles' classic, and he continues his British take on Blue Eyed Soul with his version of Rod Stewart's classics 'First Cut Is The Deepest.' An ambitious cover of punk rock band The Clash's 'Train In Vain' is the most adventurous of all of them, but Billy wins out - just.
Now, I've never heard this next song from Elton John done anywhere, any time, any place before now, but Billy sure does nail it. '(I Guess That's Why) They Call It The Blues' is covered with perfection here and never having heard it done so before, I have to applaud Billy for making the choice to attempt it. The self-proclaimed "messenger" then brings us this album to a close with the sweeping blues of 'Roll With It' (Steve Winwood), and then a simply devastatingly brilliant cover of Elvis Costello's '(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding'.