8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2005
Let's be honest: this is not a great Soulive CD. It isn't even a particularly good one. This is especially disappointing if, like me, you've grown to really like this band and know what they're capable of doing. With few exceptions the instrumentals are weak and uninspired. They simply weren't trying very hard on this one folks, and it shows. There's so little rhythmic variation among some of the tracks I wonder why they bothered to stop one tune and start the next, since the objective seems to be a kind of stupifying mid-tempo modal continuum. The unmemorable vocals are too numerous and mostly sound like quickly-prepared filler material. Overall there's simply precious little of the originality and fire for which Soulive is deservedly known. You have to wonder who let this one out the door. I'm just glad I downloaded it (legally) at emusic.com instead of paying ordinary retail. If after reading this you still want it, I strongly suggest you do the same.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2005
Regarded as a "jam band", Soulive would like "Breakout" to be marketed to a soul audience. I'm not quite sure what made them a "jam band" anyway. Certainly, Medeski, Martin and Wood are placed into the same category too. I'm not sure what makes them like Phish and The String Cheese Incident. Maybe "jam band" fans just have a broad definition of what they like. Anyway, this album took a little while to grow on me. The funky jams are there but they have more of a seventies soul sound than ever before. Which is a little more subtle than the "acid jazz" category I placed them in. We have labels for everything, don't we? This is another one of those "and friends" efforts with standout efforts by soul royalty Chaka Khan and Ivan Neville, Reggie Watts and steel guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph. Give it a chance, they're still your Soulive and one of the tightest bands out there.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2005
I have been a fan of Soulive since I first read a MODERN DRUMMER interview with Alan Evans in '01. After I read the article I decided to check out the "Doin' Something" CD and wasn't disappointed. I loved the sound of the band and couldn't wait for future releases. Welllll... the material that they recorded before (but released after) "Doin' Something" was a little raw but had excellent material, but I didn't count that as "new" stuff". "Next" really let me down- material wasn't quite as sharp, production was too glossy sounding for my taste and drums sounded weak. Then there was a live album and a remix album- both good, but I wanted something from the studio that would hit me like "Something". Finally it came with "Break Out"! It hit me from beginning to end, maybe even a lil harder than "Something". The material was fresh and on-point, had very good guest vocals, and there was definitely a different plan in mind (to my ear) as far as the production. The organ sound seemed a just a little further back in the mix, guitar and horns (most notably the trumpet) took a more prominent lead, and the snare had a little more body to it. Overall, a great sounding CD that shows some growth of the Soulive sound. Personal favorites: Reverb (too funky!!), Break Out, Take It Easy, Vapor, and What Can You Do. Pick this up if you are a fan!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2005
While it needs time to simmer and get more familiar, my first impressions are mixed. Speaking of the mix, occasional problems pop up like the solos are often buried and the low end keys are overpowering the vocals. If you listen for those type of details, some of the mix problems take away from the overall tightness just a bit.
Having said that, I love this band and I was going to buy this album no matter what. I like it so far and when bands venture into a slightly different direction it always takes a few listens before you get hip to the new sound. That's when you dig it the most. Can't wait for that to happen.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2005
Whether you are new to Soulive or old fan (can't be that old since they been around <10 yrs) this CD is not a Live performance. I am certain based on the number of LIVE shows I have seen. Contrary to other comments, I like the self production. However, someday it might be fun to see what another "big-time" producer might do with their sound for a commercial release.
I had the time to sit down and listen to the whole CD at one sitting. Overall a great listen. There are some real jam tracks (again not a live set) and a few occasional softies. Sincerely appreciated Chaka Khan's vocal talents as well as Ivan Neville. Still remember hearing it LIVE at the Chicago House of Blues and have been awaiting a commercial release of that for 2+ years. Thanks for entire project. See you in Madison and Chicago when you tour in support of this CD.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2006
For me, the real Soulive can be heard in their fantastic Turn It Out album. That one really showcases the band in its true form - the core of the band is an extremely tight and exciting rhythm section, with wonderful melodic licks from the guitar and organ. That's all I need, personally, and this new album gives us that in places (Reverb, Breakout, Take It Easy) but much of the album seems to have covered over the main nerve of creativity within the band.
Perhaps this is due to the higher production values on the record, which are very clean but not as raw and visceral as on Turn It Out. Also, the guest vocals are pleasant, and there are some quite happy multi-instrumental jams on show, but for me this all is gloss over what I really want - Soulive jamming it hard as a 3 piece and letting the juices flow!
I suppose the best way to experience this is to see the band live, so if they are in your town get some tickets straight away!
I'm still in love with this band, although this album doesn't give me the kick I get from some of their earlier work. This CD is growing on me though, as it reveals sophisticated depths...
Give it some patience, and this becomes a mellow treat. It might not get you freaking out on the underground as you listen to it on your iPod though...
p.s. That is a reference to me listening to Turn It Out on the London Underground. Can't help going crazy to Soulive!)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2006
I really enjoy this album. I wouldn't have come across this group within my usual musical circles, however, they were on NPR and I enjoyed how articulate they were when discussing their music and when excerpts were played I was hooked. This is a great album for working, driving, hanging out at the gym. I really enjoy this one.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2005
This album's over-produced, licked-clean sound is a disappointing surprise as it hides the copious individual talent of each musician. Most puzzlingly, the band itself is credited with most of the production. Note to Soulive: Gents, you need to hire someone for the next album, because you've shortchanged yourselves this time around.
This is the first Soulive album to feature prominent programming ("Turn It Out Remixed" excepted). With its hip hop and acid jazzy chops, this band should be able to digest the programming and create a brilliant product. Unfortunately, heavy loops of sound rise to the top of several compositions, and the brilliant musicians' sound lies sadly buried.
"Cachaca" and "Vapor" stand out, presenting what Soulive simply does so well. "Vapor," a great composition on its own, pushes the tempo here to great effect, and Eric Krasno on guitar and Neal Evans on keys positively shine. "Cachaca" is the only track on the album that actually uses the programming as a proper instrument instead of a sound emulsifier. It bends the tempos, and intermingles with Krasno's brilliant Spanish guitars and Ross and Zoidis's sharp horns.
On the song "Break Out" (and elsewhere) the production reduces the horns to mere flat synthesizer sounds, and their interplay with Krasno's guitar gets muddied by the thudding programmed rhythm. "Break Out" is not Soulive's most inventive composition, and the pleasure of listening to it live (and to a lesser extent, on the CD) comes from hearing the musical conversations between Krasno and the horn section (master soloist Rashawn Ross on trumpet and the mind-blowingly talented Ryan Zoidis on sax). On this album, though, we get one of those heavy loops of sound from which Soulive struggles to escape. Fortunately, the last few seconds of the track feature Ross's soloing in a burst spontaneity that is scarce on this CD-but abundant in the band's other albums and all their live performances.
"She's Hooked," a Prince-esque tune, will definitely set your head a-bobbing, but again the jazz recedes into the background (but listen closely and you can hear Neal and Krasno under there). Reggie Watts's excellent vocals are mixed with too much volume, leaving Soulive to sound like the New Power Generation, a prop and not the star of the show.
Most of the album's vocal tracks follow a similar production formula that reduces my beloved Soulive to a backing band. "Take It Easy," one of two tracks to feature Ivan Neville, presents itself unremarkably here, though it promises an awesome foundation for live performances. "Freedom" with Corey Glover and "Got Soul" are the most unremarkable tracks on the album. Alas, it is hard to believe that it is Soulive playing so forgettably, deep under the vocal tracks.
The striking and blessed contrast to the mediocre vocal tracks is "Back Again," which dishes out emotion that seems copious amidst a more sterile bunch of tracks. Chaka Khan's voice sounds fabulous, and the production presents the rough, expressive edges beautifully. The tune swings, set into motion by Neal's bass keys.
"Crosstown Traffic," excellent as it is, just cannot muster the tension and energy of Soulive's live performance of this cover, dominated by a dirty, downright raunchy, horn sound. Production has scrubbed it clean, leaving only Robert Randolph's pedal steel as the track's locomotion; fortunately, he does not disappoint.
Alan's drums are perhaps the greatest casualty of the programming, and I struggled in frustration to hear him on most of these tracks. Ultimately, this album suffers not because it is bad but because it misses a chance to present the band members' dynamic musical interaction and the band's blazing energy.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2005
just to give uneducated listeners a taste of how talented this band is, i will inform my esteemed previous reviewer, who said that soulive's bass player was the best he'd heard in a while: this band HAS NO BASS PLAYER. they're organist is that good - playing in the style of jimmy smith, but bringing it to the more spare, funked-out, bottom heavy minimalism of the hip-hop era. yup, they're all that good.
i thought "next" was a step back for this incredibly talented, tasteful, and hip band. thank god they worked out the kinks. the sax player they recruited for that album nudged them into some smooth jazz territory that was like watching miles davis take the stage with kenny g. there were some good directions on that album, e.g. the cameo by black thought of the roots, but the sax just pushed the album into "hey man can i burn that cd from you 'cuz it's really not worth the money to buy it" territory. ivan neville proves that it ain't the horn that's the problem, it's the blower. hence the difference between maceo parker and dave koz.
highly recommended album, because at their best (which they are close to here), this band is one of the most exciting things in contemporary jazz. you must peep them live if you have a chance. you'll come away feeling refueled with hipsterdom, as well as with a rock hard ass from shaking it so much.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2005
These guys are the best thing to come along since Prince came along to challenge what soul and funk were supposed to sound like. They take their truely soulful sound and funk it up, or rock it out, or twist it. They have some amazing guest appearing on here. I like the Chaka Khan imfluenced song "Back Again". Whenever Khan shows up on theses days her voice always meake me smile. Corey Glover's Freedom is a true funk diamond. Reggie Watts in "She's Hooked" has that Prince vibe like back when he was sitting on the winged horse in 1979. I'm also feeling Reverb...but the whole album is tight. Definitely a album you can put on at a party and just let run...Pick it up for sure!