Cool Million - The Best Of Cool Million (2017)

Cool Million
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Cool Million - The Best of Cool Million

For the past decade, the German/Danish production duo of Rob Hardt and Frank Ryle has intermingled contemporary production standards with retrofied grooves, topped them with both legendary and cutting-edge vocalists, and delivered feel-good, enduring song structures. Glenn Jones, Leroy Burgess, Meli’sa Morgan, Keni Burke, Peggi Blu, Marc Sadane, and Rena Scott are just a few of the classy talents who have graced Cool Million’s refreshingly pure arrangements, which have consistently emitted funkiness, grace, and celebration.

Cool Million - The Best of Cool Million

For the past decade, the German/Danish production duo of Rob Hardt and Frank Ryle has intermingled contemporary production standards with retrofied grooves, topped them with both legendary and cutting-edge vocalists, and delivered feel-good, enduring song structures. Glenn Jones, Leroy Burgess, Meli’sa Morgan, Keni Burke, Peggi Blu, Marc Sadane, and Rena Scott are just a few of the classy talents who have graced Cool Million’s refreshingly pure arrangements, which have consistently emitted funkiness, grace, and celebration.

The Best of Cool Million collects 12 cuts from the duo’s four albums and features three new tracks. It’s an effective sampling of the niche they’ve carved, with uptempo floor-fillers and midtempo steppers, showcasing several of the renowned singers who helped bring them to the forefront of the European modern-soul scene (Eugene Wilde, Kenny Thomas) and a variety of rising artists who’ve played an important role in cultivating the Cool Million brand (Laura Jackson, Marc Evans). Unfortunately, a handful of key singles and album cuts that have resonated quite strongly with listeners are not present: Morgan’s “Sweet Baby,” Jones’ “Tonight,” C.J. Anthony’s “Give Me My Love,” and Burgess’ “Cool to Make a Million,” for example. But for devoted fans hankering for something different than what’s already in their CD collections, the inclusion of the Dimitri from Paris remix of Porter Carroll, Jr.’s “Oh!” and the enticing new entries from Kiki Kyte and Gregers should serve as particular points of interest.

The Best of opens with what is certainly one of Cool MIllion’s defining moments: Eugene Wilde’s “Back for More.” The sprightly, full-bodied 2010 number’s endearing melodies are the perfect fit for Wilde’s signature yearning tones, which have an assured, laid back edge that is highlighted by the spot-on rhythm arrangement. “Going Out Tonight,” the zesty title cut from CM’s 2008 debut album, is proof positive of the continued relevance of Hardt and Ryle’s blend of nostalgic creative sensibility with modern musical prowess. And Burke’s tender phrasing still resonates with timelessness on the mellowly pulsating “So Real.”

Among other highlights of the collection are Thomas’ “Without Your Love,” lifted from 2012’s III. The satiating jam employs similar melodic undertones to “Back for More,” but at a snappier pace. Equipped with an indelible hook and cool yet convincing vocal, it’s a definite party pleaser. Same goes for Carroll’s “Oh!,” where Dimitri from Paris injects layers of electro-funk into the effervescent ditty for an all-out club banger replete with savvy synth work, an essential breakdown, and an ideal balance of vocal effects and rhythmic variation. While not as dynamic in tone, old and new fans alike will delight at the set’s closing number, “Your Love Is All I Need.” The understated entry features the vocals of none other than Alton McClain, who hasn’t cut a secular record in over 30 years. Loved by soul and disco fans alike for “It Must Be Love” and “My Destiny” (which she recorded with Destiny in 1979 and 1981, respectively), she’s in remarkable form on “Your Love,” finding just the right meeting point of restraint and enthusiasm on the pleasing groover.

The Best of Cool Million is a distinguished presentation of two commendable producers and writers who have accomplished quite a feat in the 2010’s by trailblazing a niche of sonic experiences that are old school-savvy in vibe yet pointedly fresh in execution. By collaborating with a wealth of quality soul singers spanning wide demographics and geographical points, they have proven time and time again to have a handle on keeping the feel flavorful and well-rounded, while remaining consistent. Recent acts who have been successful with a modernized funky throwback sound—ranging from Bruno Mars to Tuxedo—owe them a tip of the hat. Recommended.

By Justin Kantor

 

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