LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own… today its a band that is super tight and supremely funky, I’ve been hearing them championed by Craig Charles on 6Music and in a quiet storm they’ve been building up a head of steam and a burgeoning fanbase with their mixture of Acid Jazz grooves, Motown vibes and social conscience plus Mod-ish leanings, (like The Creation bubbling along with Marvin Gaye and FreakPower) not to mention their notable patronage by the Modfather himself, Paul Weller and collaborations with luminaries like William Bell, Dr. Robert, Kathyrn Williams, Graham Parker and Style Council drummer Steve White . The last two albums by R&B roister-doisters Stone Foundation “Everybody, Everyone” and “Street Rituals” both made the top 25 in the UK album chart, and there’s a new one on the way “Is Love Enough?” which like the last one was recorded at Weller’s Barn Studios with the man himself lending a hand on production and vocals. It’s music that swings and that makes the heart sing, and right now we could use some of that right? It smells like quarantine spirit, a tonic of lockdown positivity worth eschewing a grim 24 hour news cycle for in order to dance like no-one’s looking (and let’s face it they probably aren’t). Just drink in the moves of the recent video, “The Light In Us” featuring the honeyed vocals of Laville for incontrovertible proof.
And much as a lot of Stone Foundation gigs have had to inevitably be postponed due to the Coronavirus crisis, they are using the time wisely and strutting their funky stuff in a virtual forum, with the entire playback of a live performance from last year’s gig at the Mojo Club in Hamburg, showing on Facebook and YouTube this Saturday 2nd May (flyer below). Stone Foundation co-founder Neil Jones reliably informs me it was rocking, and given that the last time they did an interactive concert stream with a gig that featured guest appearances by Paul Weller, Kathryn Williams et al it was viewed by a rambunctious 300k, so you’d be wise not to miss it.
But before that as a taster of the musical underpinning that secures The Stone Foundation, Neil Jones and fellow founder Neil Sheasby let rip with some inarguably classic selections…Mr. Jones first…
1. Smokey Robinson – Tracks Of My Tears
Musically and lyrically one of the greatest 3 minute pop songs ever written and maybe one of the first to address the pain caused by depression wrapped up in a beautifully eloquent metaphor.
2. Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Wake up and Make Love With Me
British poetry meets American Jazz/Funk, these guys were pioneers and soulful trailblazers & combining these two wonderful elements was a stroke of absolute genius, showing so many working class bands in the UK that you too can be funky!
3. Bill Withers – The Same Love That Made Me Laugh
I’ve been playing this record a lot since Bill’s passing last month, taken from the record Justiments (always my favourite BW sleeve) his grooves and the warm full bodied tone of his voice were always 100% righteous and his music has that intangible majesty that can transport you to another place and another time. Thanks for the inspiration and information Bill, rest easy man.
Over to Mr. Sheasby for his selections:
4. Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
That perfect juxtaposition of being a global hit single but not really pandering to commerciality. It’s fairly timeless too, released in 1980 but it sounds like it could have been yesterday.
5. The Spinners – I’ll Be Around
Just such an uplifting tune, although it’s fundamentally a song of clinging onto a lost love, it never fails to raise your spirits, there’s an eternal optimism to it.
6. Steve Lacy – Playground
There’s loads of great new music being released, the acceleration of platforms such as Spotify is a great way to discover tunes and artists.
This is reminiscent of Prince but he’s also very much his own man and The Internet (for whom Steve Lacy plays Bass with) are a really interesting group too.
And finally…one of their own, and a brand new song hot off the press
The Lucky 7th: Stone Foundation “Changes”
Changes was written as a direct response to the social and political turmoil we all seemed to be going through over the last couple of years. Lyrically it’s a song about taking what life throws at you, adapting to it and coming out the other side stronger for the experience. We were never to know what was awaiting us at the start of 2020 and when I listen to this song lyrically now it could have easily been written during the current situation we’re all experiencing worldwide.
(the first live performance footage of “Changes” features in the interactive gig this Saturday 2 May 8pm UK time/9pm CET, but check out the tuneage below)
THANKS SO MUCH TO NEIL JONES AND NEIL SHEASBY AND ALSO TO MY GOOD FRIEND JOHN ESPLEN AT WIPEOUT MUSIC PUBLISHING
Join the gig live via the band’s website below:
You can also follow them on the regular socials for more news on forthcoming new (tenth) album “Is Love Enough?”…