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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Average White Band

Greatest and Latest

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit that while I am a avid prog and metal fanatic, R & B, soul and especially funk have a special place in my musical tastes. So, Average White Band, the guys responsible for the CLASSIC funk song "Pick Up The Pieces" fit well within that range. Their newest release, due April 19th, is Greatest and Latest. Well titled, the album is a collection of prime moments in their 16 year history along with a couple new tracks and a few unreleased live recordings. Honestly, it may be the funk leanings of my tastes, but they really seem to shine the best on the faster paced funk numbers. Still, even when the music doesn't gel as well as other times, it still works. The collection includes a bonus DVD (although my review copy did not - so I can't comment on that) and should make a great addition to the collection of AWB fans and fans of R & B and soulful funk in general.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Spirit of Love (with Chaka Khan & Ronnie Laws)
With an acapella intro, this funky cut is a cool one that feels a little like The Doobie Brothers at times. It's poppy, but still has some meat to it. It has a very cool bridge and a rather electronic texture at time. This has a nice sax solo.
Pick Up The Pieces
This classic funk cut should be recognizable to everyone, and it still has it. The sax solo on this jazz inspired funk piece is exceptionally tasty.
In The Beginning (live at the Mt. Fuji Festival, Japan)
A killer funk bass line starts this fast paced live jam. It includes a nice scat with the sax and the vocals following each other.
Let's Go All the Way (with Chaka Khan)
This is a sultry jazzy ballad with a very cool vocal arrangement.
I'll Get Over You
This cut is rather generic with an '80's rock style. It has its moments, but is just a little too cliched.
Love at First Sight (with Alex Ligertwood)
Another slower cut, this is a rather cool balladic groove.
Every Beat of My Heart (with Klyde Jones)
This slow one is solid, but doesn't do much for me. Still the vocal arrangement is powerful.
When We Get Down To It
A mid tempo piece, this one has a cool groove, and is pretty potent.
Oh, Maceo (live at the Fillmore Auditorium)
Another live one, horn starts this and the band join in for a killer funk grind. This jam is one of the strongest on the album.
Do Ya Really
Another killer funk groove; this also is a highlight of the collection. The horn section really smokes.
I Wanna Be Loved (featuring Daryl Hall)
This is another slower cut, and quite soulful. It is better than some of the slower pieces on the album, and has a nice sax solo.
Window To Your Soul
Another slow one, this has a classic '70's R & B sound, funky and sultry. This one is very cool.
Living in Colour
With a rather Latin rhythm, this one is somewhat jazzy. It's not bad, but not the strongest material on show. The vocals are truly its saving grace.
Work to Do (Nu-Jazz Mix)
Back into faster territory, this is another jazz-oriented cut. It is a fairly smooth and entertaining piece, although not a real standout.
Love Won't Let Me Wait
The slowest piece on the disc; this ballad is a bit weak.
Let's Go Round Again (live at The London Empire)
Another live one, the funk lives again on this fast paced romp. This killer jam has a great arrangement, and while there are better choices for album closer, this works pretty well.
 
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