S.O.U.L. – 1972 – Can You Feel It
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A delight for anyone with an interest in funk, soul, groove and breaks.
Sounds Of Unity and Love (S.O.U.L.) was a band originating in 1970 in Cleveland. Members were Lee Lovett (bass), Gus Hawkins (sax/flute), Paul Stubblefield (drums), and Walter Winston (guitar). Larry Hancock (vocals/organ) was added in 1971 and Bernard (Beloyd) Taylor (guitar) replaced Walter Winston in 1972.
The group won the first prize of 1,000 dollars in a battle-of-the-bands contest in 1970, sponsored by the May Company department store in Cleveland, WHK radio station, and Musicor Records, and they gained a recording contract with Musicor Records for their first single “Down In The Ghetto” (1971), produced by the TOP POP Recording Company 223 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City.
Two years later, S.O.U.L. were back to New York to record ” What is It“, a LP with seven tracks of covers of jazz and funk tunes, that jumped for two months on the Top 40 album spot on Billboard’s soul album chart. The album was released in Europe just in the early ’90s on the BGP label.
“Can You Feel It” is where they really come into their own and shine … and jam. This record had only one cover on it, a version of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour“. It seems like the band was more confident in doing original material at this point (or perhaps their record label was giving them freer reign) and it shows in some truly sparking numbers, from funky, groove-laden pieces to more traditional soul ballads.
S.O.U.L. realized seven singles between ´71-74 for the Musicor Records, cracking the RnB top 50 chart in the summer of 1973. After successful second LP, Can you feel it, the group got separate ways in 1975. Taylor moved to Los Angeles where wrote “Get Away” for Earth, Wind & Fire in 1976 and recorded for 20th Century Records. Hancock, also, moved to California and recorded for Decca Records including a duet with Alfie Silas; later he was part of the Platters. Gus Hawkins went back to college and worked as phlebotomist at the Cleveland Clinic before moving to Atlanta, GA. Lovett and Stubblefield continued to work in recording studios and labels.
A1 Can You Feel It 7:15
A2 Tell It Like It Is 4:20
A3 Do What’s Never You Want To Do 3:33
A4 Peace Of Mind 3:49
B1 My Cherrie Amour 4:44
B2 Love, Peace And Power 3:45
B3 To Mend A Broken Heart 4:07
B4 Sleeping Beauty 2:52
Review by Soulmakossa
Whereas S.O.U.L.’s first LP had been a cover-laden affair, their sophomore release showed the band’s potential for creating exciting originals in their own right.
The titanic groove romp “Can You Feel It” rides a laid-back, lazy, fatback rhythm that provides solo spots for Gus Hawkins on alt sax, Walter Winston on wah wah guitar and bandleader Lee Lovett on bass before it makes way for the vocals of the entire group. A very Sly Stone-esque jam that works its way up to a funk-filled climax.
“Tell It Like It Is” has S.O.U.L. in a political bag: a pacey, bouncing strut featuring infectious group vocals and some tasty, horn-filled hooks, as well as a rock hard guitar solo.
The finest funk is achieved on the party vamp “Do What So Never You Want to Do“, which is a showcase for Paul Stubblefield’s ultra tight drum chops. Hawkins injects a vicious, descending alt sax riff on the chorus, and Winston weaves a web of piercing guitar lines throughout.
Sit back and bob to the horn-heavy, slow cruisin’ swamp funker “Peace of Mind” and dig S.O.U.L.’s mellower sound on a version of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour“.
“Love, Peace and Power” is quintessential blaxploitation noise: a busy flute solo set to a jazzy-Latin-funky stew of jungle sounds…
The sole ballad here, “To Mend a Broken Heart“, actually fits really well, sounding lowdown and slightly haunting, devoid off any form of artificial sweetening.
Ending the album is the soothing, almost ambient instrumental “Sleeping Beauty“, which reveals the band’s jazz skills.
‘Can You Feel It’ was the last album waxed by this underrated group of musicians… be sure to pick it up when you get it in sight.