Soul Cycle - Flipped

Soul Cycle
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Remixing songs - or making alternate versions - can be a risky business.  Usually, a remix is simply a way to gin up sales, just like those throwback uniforms and alternate colored jerseys do for football teams. I'm not saying I have a problem with free enterprise; I'm just saying sometimes it's obvious when these decisions are made by people other than the creative people.

So when I got Flipped, the new CD by Soul Cycle, I noticed that three of the songs on this seven track EP were mixes of cuts featured on the 2009 CD Mosaic and the 2007 record Urban Organics (the other four songs are covers of classic soul, jazz and hip-hop tunes.)

Remixing songs - or making alternate versions - can be a risky business.  Usually, a remix is simply a way to gin up sales, just like those throwback uniforms and alternate colored jerseys do for football teams. I'm not saying I have a problem with free enterprise; I'm just saying sometimes it's obvious when these decisions are made by people other than the creative people.

So when I got Flipped, the new CD by Soul Cycle, I noticed that three of the songs on this seven track EP were mixes of cuts featured on the 2009 CD Mosaic and the 2007 record Urban Organics (the other four songs are covers of classic soul, jazz and hip-hop tunes.)

I can't say that I liked the remixes better than I liked the originals. However, I can say the funk infused "Empty Pockets," the Latin tinged "Streets of Gold" and the hip-hop flavored "Signs and Wonders" all make musical comments that are distinct from the originals and compelling in their own way.

The originals were all jazz both in terms of their acoustic openness and the song length that gave the artists time to improvise and create musically. Going with the keyboards on "Empty Pockets" lets the band amp up that head bobbing funk quotient while the Latin beat transforms "Streets of Gold" into a dance tune. "Signs and Wonders" features drum loops, audio from speeches by the Rev. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi. The song also includes a rap. The musicians in Soul Cycle never stray too far way from their improvising jazz roots, and each song features some creative soloing and musical conversations.

The four covers are notable for the ground they cover both chronologically and stylistically. The album features a modern soul/hip-hop version of the jazz classical "In a Sentimental Mood," a swinging jazz cover of Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It," a funky cover of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amor," sung by female vocalist Melanie Charles and an atmospherically jazzy version of Outkast's "Prototype" with Rogiers handling the lead vocals. By the way, go to the Soul Cycle Web site to see Rogiers singing "Prototype" live. He tears it up.

Weighing in at seven songs, Flipped is a pretty efficient album.  And it is a great compliment to the creativity of this band that these remixes are so unique and distinct from the originals that Flipped doesn't feel like an album of remixes and covers at all.  Flipped, in fact, is an appropriate title for this CD, as the group Soul Cycle handled these tunes until they found something new. And then they worked it. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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