The British Collective “Piece Of Heaven”

SHARE BLOGFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

As modern classic soul goes, there are choices aplenty thanks to an array of independent projects coming and going on a daily basis. Few, however, combine so many of the essential elements as does The British Collective on Vol 1: The Renaissance Begins… Comprised of a dream cast of veteran and longstanding singer-songwriters from all corners of the UK R&B spectrum—Junior Giscombe, Leee John, Don-E, Omar, and Noel McCoy, the well-studied and equally enthusiastic ensemble delivers a festive 14-track CD embodying all that’s fulfilling and enriching about British black music of the past three decades.

The Renaissance Begins… was previewed in 2014 by the coolly swingin’ midtempo, “Romantic.” While that number still pleases, it actually pales in comparison to much of the remarkable material that the Collective has come up with in the interim. From the first measure of the opening “Piece of Heaven,” the guys’ metaphysical understanding of what makes a great groove becomes clear. The vibe is addictive enough to please fans of up-to-the-minute sonic permutations, but solidly grounded in a timeless sensibility that will quickly win over old-school devotees. Don-E’s lightly floating tones on the first verse contrasted with Noel McCoy’s shades of yearning on the second are an example of how the group’s versatile influences provide satisfying returns time after time.

Continuing the flow of “Heaven,” the punchy and peppery “Stay” builds anticipation with convivial handclaps before the groove kicks in. Junior’s impassioned tenor displays both power and vulnerability which have not faded with the years, as a contagious background chant of “Get down, baby girl, get down” compliments the ride further. Lest there be any concern that The Renaissance Begins… is structured from merely a couple of strong entries, the aural delight keeps on with the atmospheric jam “Higher Love” (featuring guests Alex Charles and Errol Reid). Emblazoned with undertones of legato keyboard work, the song’s straight-ahead message of hedonism by means of music and dance is brought home by acutely executed vocal phrasing and subtly sophisticated harmonies.

Following this triple threat of funky uptempo soul, the pace is slowed momentarily for the winding reggae calm of “Take Your Time,” succeeded by the inviting house swagger of “Won’t You Come Over.” Andrew Roachford and Donavon Blackwood lend their distinctive pipes to the latter, leading surprisingly smoothly into the slower, yet just as tasty “That’s Why.” The tune blends rhythmic elements of bossa nova and calypso (courtesy of Andrew McLean) which gel impressively with Omar’s deep, hardy delivery and Leee John’s serene flourishes.

Building even deeper on the wide-ranging palette of sounds, the Collective tackles Trevor Walters’ lovers’ rock anthem “Love Me Tonight” (a 1981 top-30 UK hit) in modestly jazzy groove fashion. Though it’s hard to touch the unaffected sweetness of the original, the guys do a credible job of preserving its integrity while adding distinguished vocal characteristics—from John’s understated treatment to Don-E’s earnestly ardent attack. Meanwhile, John displays a similarly soft charisma on the original, ultra-kinetic “Flow,” a synth bass-driven track bolstered by Junior’s vibrant runs. “Loosen up, feel the pleasure, let yourself flow…” Indeed.

On a particularly ambitious note, John covers Eddie Kendricks’ 1974 gem “Tell Her Love Has Felt the Need.” Strikingly channeling Kendricks with his pure falsetto allurement, he conjures the bittersweet lyrics with acute candor. Although the backing arrangement is slightly lacking in warmth, it functions reliably and is abetted by gutsy closing vamps by McKoy.

After the endearing “Sign of the Times,” The Renaissance closes with the gentle swayer “Doctor Love,” a no-frills slow jam highlighting the Collective’s adept harmonies from start to finish, complimented with an appearance by Glen Goldsmith. It’s a left-field choice to end the set, given that it’s more than a few notches down in tone from almost all of the other cuts; but it serves as additional testament to the guys’ through-and-through successful quest to stray from compartmentalization and formula. Highly recommended.





13 thoughts on “The British Collective “Piece Of Heaven”

  1. Thanks for all your work on this web site. Debby delights in engaging in investigation and it’s really obvious why. My spouse and i know all about the powerful method you make important guidance through your website and as well as encourage contribution from some other people on this area of interest and our own child is undoubtedly being taught so much. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year. You’re carrying out a really good job.

  2. I抦 impressed, I have to say. Actually rarely do I encounter a weblog that抯 both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you may have hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the problem is one thing that not enough persons are speaking intelligently about. I am very comfortable that I stumbled throughout this in my search for something regarding this.

  3. I’m commenting to let you understand of the fine experience my girl had browsing yuor web blog. She learned some issues, most notably what it is like to have an excellent helping spirit to get many more without hassle learn about a number of specialized matters. You truly surpassed our own expectations. Many thanks for rendering such practical, trusted, revealing and also fun guidance on the topic to Gloria.

  4. Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this web site needs rather more consideration. I抣l most likely be again to learn far more, thanks for that info.

  5. I am only commenting to make you understand of the beneficial encounter my friend’s child had using your web site. She even learned a good number of pieces, including what it is like to have an incredible coaching heart to make the mediocre ones easily thoroughly grasp several complex subject matter. You actually did more than her expectations. I appreciate you for distributing these helpful, trustworthy, educational and as well as unique tips about this topic to Kate.

  6. Thank you for all of your effort on this website. My niece takes pleasure in doing investigation and it’s really obvious why. Most people learn all of the dynamic means you render powerful things by means of your website and as well increase contribution from visitors about this point so our favorite princess has always been understanding so much. Take pleasure in the rest of the new year. You are always performing a powerful job.

  7. My husband and i ended up being really thrilled that Edward could finish up his preliminary research while using the precious recommendations he discovered in your web pages. It’s not at all simplistic to simply be giving freely concepts that many other folks might have been trying to sell. So we do know we’ve got you to appreciate because of that. The entire explanations you made, the simple blog navigation, the relationships you help to engender – it’s got many remarkable, and it’s facilitating our son in addition to our family reckon that this topic is amusing, and that is tremendously important. Thanks for everything!

  8. I would like to express some thanks to the writer just for rescuing me from this situation. Just after looking out throughout the internet and obtaining notions that were not powerful, I believed my entire life was well over. Living without the presence of strategies to the problems you have resolved through this blog post is a crucial case, as well as ones which may have negatively damaged my career if I hadn’t noticed your blog post. Your personal talents and kindness in controlling all things was important. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a subject like this. I can at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time very much for the expert and effective help. I won’t hesitate to suggest the website to anyone who should have direction on this subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *