I always had a soft spot for Babylon A.D., the band from whence vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Derek Davis originally hails. Indeed that band’s Bang Go the Bells is one of my all time favourite hair metal anthems, a real rabble rousing call to arms that never failed to get me up on my drunken feet and heading to the dance floor at Cardiff’s Bogiez niteclub back in the day…
However, as you’ll gather from the teaser that presages this review at the top of the page there, there’s not a hint of Babylon in this new release, which is Derek’s second solo outing. Rather, he’s decided to follow his instincts and opts for an old-school soul/r n’b feel on pretty much all of the tracks that certainly ain’t gonna float your boat if it’s screaming solos and gang vocal choruses you’re after. If you don’t mind changing things up a little in your musical diet, though, you might just find a lot to like about Revolutionary Soul.
Tin-pot production values aside – a lot of what’s on offer sonically sounds like it might have been put together in the man’s bedroom, or at least some sort of rudimentary basement studio – there are plenty of jollies to be had, right from the off as Derek calls his brothers and sisters to revolt on the opening title track. He’s got a great voice – somewhere between Simply Red‘s Mick Hucknall and long haired blue-eyed soul boy Curtis Stigers – and uses it well throughout, whether it be on covers (a whimsical take on Amy Winehouse‘s Valerie is pretty good) or his own takes on the soul genre. Standout track Picture of Love is a Derek original, and it’s a belter, with the man pulling out his most convincing vocal performance of the album (although his version of Bobby Womack‘s Woman’s Gotta Have It runs it a close second, coming on like a gritty Smokey Robinson), and throughout the record he complements his singing with some top drawer, slinkily bluesy guitar playing too.
Great stuff then, but absolutely not for everybody who’ll be reading Sentinel Daily. Give it a chance, ignore the biscuit tin drums… you’ll have a ball. Tidy work, Derek bach!
Apocalypse Records will release Revolutionary Soul on January 21st