Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays – Introducing

January 01, 1970

(Marlow)

 

www.marlowrecords.com

 

It
takes guts to name your band out of a hybrid of two of the ‘60s and ‘70s
greatest soul & funk combos – The Bar-Kays and the Mar-Keys – one of who
(The Bar-Kays) is still occasionally active, but fortunately for us all, Slim
Moore and the Mar-Kays have what it takes to match the music to the moniker.

 

From
a sonic point of view, Slim and his erstwhile combo are actually closer to Isaac
Hayes and his vintage 1960s and 70s combo, The Movement, and Curtis Mayfield’s
classic 70s band. Like Hayes and Mayfield, Moore and Co. fluidly move from funk
to soul to R&B, from up-tempo to mid-tempo to chill, and imbue everything
with a seamless, sexy groove that creates a cinematic soul groove that sounds
like a direct descendent of the soundtracks to “Shaft” and “Superfly,” as well
as countless other classic soundtracks of the era by Willie Hutch, Roy Ayers,
etc. This is deliberate, of course: song-titles like “Cityscape,” “Riverside Drive”
and “Slim’s Theme” have distinctly soundtracky names, and the cover art could
double as a promo poster for a cops and gangster film from the early 1970s.
Fans of current practitioners of cinematic soul like Barry Adamson, Adrian Younge
and the Truth & Soul Records house band should find kindred soul(s) here.

 

Hailing
from Montreal,
the Mar-Kays feature members of the Soul jazz Orchestra, People Project, Phil
Motion & the Easy Lo-Fi and The Marlow Beat Kings, and their debut CD also
features contributors from the One Faith Gospel Singers and a string section to
sweeten the funk. This is top-shelf soul: sophisticated, well played,
beautifully arranged and recorded and hip to the grooves and overall vibe that
made this stuff great to start off with back in the ‘60s and early 70s. Songs
like “Cityscape,” How Long” and “Riverside
Drive” hit on the mid-tempo side of the equation,
while “Reachin’ Higher” and “Steppin’ All Over me” are more up-tempo and “Get
Back Home” “Just Can’t Get Ahead” are on the chill/ballad end.

 

Some
of this is just classic: “Help Me Now” rides a Motown bass line, groovy vibes,
a great horn line and Moore’s stand-out vocal right to soul nirvana, and sounds
like a long-lost Marvin Gaye gem finally being discovered. Same for
“Cityscape,” with its wah-wah and fuzz guitars, cool strings, loping rhythm and
siren wailing in the background. The band gets its own instrumental workout,
“Mar-Kay’s Theme,” and another (“Cool Breeze”) that sounds like it was designed
to run over the end-credits of a Blaxploitation film. All are originals written
by Moore and
arranger/producer/multi-instrumentalist Thibodaux Toussaint except a terrific, heartfelt take on Syl Johnson’s
classic “Is It Because I’m Black.” Moore
fronts it all with a strong, smoky vocal approach that is distinctly his own
while still coming straight out of the tradition of great soul singers a la Marvin Gaye/Otis Redding/Bill
Withers/Syl Johnson, etc. 

 

Introducing
Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays
is an unexpected, fully realized modern soul treasure
that arrives full-born and dressed to impress. This is absolutely essential for
anyone interested in a modern take on old-school soul and classic soundtrack
funk. 

 

DOWNLOAD: “Cityscape,” “Is It
Because I’m Black,” “Help Me Now” “Riverside
Drive.” CARL HANNI

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