The Quantic Soul Orchestra: Pushin' On (2005)
As the mastermind behind Quantic, Will Holland scored a major hit in electronic and club music circles with last year's Mishaps Happening. Here performing on organ, bass, guitar, sitar, percussion, and saxophone, he leads the Quantic Soul Orchestra, the concert ensemble he formed to "put the funk back in it, through its US debut.
It might be an overused expression, but this is a great party record. Holland the songwriter offers tunes that throb and groove; Holland the producer gives them a warm and punchy sound. Hard-rocking snare drums snap the snaky rhythms of "West Pier Getdown and "The Conspirator (Main Theme) tightly into place. "Get A Move On whippets on an up-tempo boogaloo beat while lead flute stirs up Holland's jam pot.
Holland borrows two covers that are quite unusual for a soul record, music for films composed by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse: "Hold On Tight and "Feelin' Good, which slides along strings that project a sleek European, but no less soulful feeling. "Paintings and Journeys also uses strings, and swaps acoustic in for electric guitar, to ride its smooth funk glide.
James Brown's "Cold Sweat sounds like the template for "Pushin' On, its instrumental funk and Alice Russell's steaming vocal creating a proud new soul sister to Aretha Franklin's classic "Rock Steady. Meanwhile, the bass line to "That Goose on My Grave crackles like Brown's incendiary "I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me). From the sound of things, Holland certainly did not miss many James Brown lessons. And if you're going to build a house of soul, it seems wise to start with blueprints from the man who laid the original foundation.
Track Listing: Introducing the Quantic Soul Orchestra; West Pier Getdown; Pushin' On; That Goose on My Grave; Feeling Good; The Conspirator (Main Theme); Hands of My Love; Hold on Tight; Get a Move On; Paintings and Journeys; End of the Road
Personnel: Andrew Carthy: arranger; Willie Holland: organ, bass, guitar, percussion, arranger, saxophone, sitar, tambourine, producer; John Hughes: flute; Russell Knight: drums; Simon Little: Fender Rhodes; Oliver Minkley: percussion, conga, tambourine, cowbell; Alice Russell: vocals; Mike Simmonds: strings; Todd M. Simon: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tracy Wannomae: alto saxophone.