Winslow - Crazy Kind of Love (2008)

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When you're with a group of people who are of a certain age (say 30ish and up) and the talk turns to music, somebody will say they long for the days when there were bands just like Winslow. Well, maybe not exactly like Winslow. I mean, many of these music fans might not know who Winslow is. Depending on whether people in the gathering are fans of 1990s era sitcoms or pro football, they're likely to think you're talking about Carl the cop on Family Matters or Kellen the tight end for the Cleveland Browns (or his Hall of Fame daddy with the same name). But I digress.

What those music fans probably mean is that they are pining for the days when R&B music had bands and not just over-produced solo singers. They'd like for the members of those bands to play real instruments and write and arrange their own songs. They'd like to hear singers throw their entire heart and soul into a song (and they'd like for those singers to be able to sing).

When you're with a group of people who are of a certain age (say 30ish and up) and the talk turns to music, somebody will say they long for the days when there were bands just like Winslow. Well, maybe not exactly like Winslow. I mean, many of these music fans might not know who Winslow is. Depending on whether people in the gathering are fans of 1990s era sitcoms or pro football, they're likely to think you're talking about Carl the cop on Family Matters or Kellen the tight end for the Cleveland Browns (or his Hall of Fame daddy with the same name). But I digress.

What those music fans probably mean is that they are pining for the days when R&B music had bands and not just over-produced solo singers. They'd like for the members of those bands to play real instruments and write and arrange their own songs. They'd like to hear singers throw their entire heart and soul into a song (and they'd like for those singers to be able to sing). They want Sly and the Family Stone, or Earth, Wind and Fire or the Ohio Players. The late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s was the golden era of soul and funk bands. There was a lot going on artistically, culturally and economically that lent itself to the formation of a giant, eclectic outfit such as Parliament/Funkadelic. Truth is, a lot of people might not even identify Winslow as a funk band after hearing their latest record Crazy Kind of Love. Truth be told, a lot of people probably wouldn't have called Funkadelic a funk band after hearing Maggot Brain, either.

However, since funk is the fusion of soul, rock and jazz, and it would be pretty hard to come to the conclusion that Winslow is anything but a funk band after hearing Crazy Kind of Love. Pretty good funk band, too. First of all, you have a funk band with Ohio roots. Winslow is based in Kent, Ohio, the home of Kent State University. The Buckeye state has long had a rep as a funk and soul hotbed. Roger Troutman, the Dazz Band, Bootsy Collins, the O Jays, Levert and the aforementioned Ohio Players all come from Ohio. All of those legendary groups have a reputation for doing some serious hard work on stage and in the studio. Winslow is known for being a hard funking band, and that's one thing that comes through on Crazy Kind of Love.

The musicianship on Crazy Kind of Love is one of the album's highlights. The musicians know that true funksters like to read the liner notes and credits. They want to know who is playing those instruments. In that way, funk has something in common with jazz in that funk is an egalitarian music. So let's meet the sidemen: Neal Campbell plays guitar, Brian Robertson plays bass, Justin Hofmann mans the drummer's chair and Matt Tieman plays the saxophone. Maurice Martin is the lead vocalist and keyboard player.

The band comes out blazing from the opening track, the rocker "Breakdown." There's enough guitar play in "Breakdown" to get the heads of rockers nodding. However, "Breakdown" also features some serious thumping on plucking on the electric bass. Winslow maintains that high-tempo pace for the next four songs, which includes the soul funk tune "Move On" and the blues-rock jam "Sideshow."

Crazy Kind of Love also features several ballads. The ballads are good, although Martin over sings on "Everything." "Masquerade" is a bedroom classic that tells the story of an adulterous tryst and the guilt-ridden aftermath. The best of slow jams are "Into Tomorrow," a tune that has wedding anthem written all over it, and the mid-tempo jam "You and I."

On the whole, Martin shows that he can skillfully handle the varying tempos of songs done by Winslow.  And while many soul music fans are more comfortable listening to music that's a little smoother, bands such as Winslow remind us that the gritty funk/rock fusion was and is an important part of the music we call soul.

By Howard Dukes

 
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