Reel People - Seven Ways to Wonder (2008)

Reel People
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When club music was the rage, starting with the disco era in the seventies, old-school soul was the pulse on several hits, such as Donna Summer's lengthy, ecstasy-filled journey "I Love To Love You Baby" and Evelyn ‘Champagne' King's feisty vocal performance on the funk-filled "Shame."  Similarly, the eighties were on fire with soulful dance songs like of Luther Vandross's early hit the "The Glow Of Love" backed by the European dance/R&B group Change.

Meanwhile, an amalgamation of classic soul, mixed with funk, jazz, and live and electronic beats came along, dubbed by the music world as the Acid Jazz movement.  Dance DJ's, especially in the U.K clubs, had a field day spinning both fundamental soul and jazz, plus revamped impressions from newer bands like The Brand New Heavies and United Future Organization.  During the heyday of merging soul with dance floor sensibility, several tracks made huge dents on the charts, including the house music energizer "To Be In Love," from production duo Masters At Work featuring Latin powerhouse vocalist India, and "People Everyday," a throwback to seventies' soul rockers, Sly & The Family Stone, by hip-hop groundbreakers, Arrested Development. 

Musicians like Incognito, Rebirth, and Reel People still carry the soul/dance club torch, yet while these artists have a loyal following, their presence is not as obvious on the current dance charts, which are mostly occupied by pop, trance, and modern R&B.

What makes Reel People's second full-length, Seven Ways To Wonder, special is the attractive combination of a huge palette of beats from world music to jazz, combined with memorable, classic soul influenced vocals. The aura of Bill Withers flows throughout the Soca-driven "Outta Love," enhanced by Omar's husky but on-point lead.  Tony Momrelle demonstrates a warm, George Benson-like vocal on "It Will Be," matching the guitar solo lick for lick, topped by snap-crackling beats.  And the Latin-powered "Alibi" has Stevie Wonder stamped all over it, courtesy of relative newcomer Darien's passionate performance.

Time after time talented groups have shown that soulful vocals and effective dance beats in the proper hands will make memorable listening, no matter how it's sliced and diced.  The aforementioned musicians are proof of this, and they will always have a place in the clubs and in music loyalists' hearts, even if not on Billboard's charts.    

By Peggy Oliver

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