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Soul Speak

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 4, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Soul Speak is the natural follow-up to McDonald's two smash explorations of the Motown Records songbook. 'These songs span my life. They're the ones where I can remember where I was when I first heard them, the ones that made me interested in becoming a recording artist, the songs I'd always imagined myself singing.' says Michael. The creator of such hits as 'I Keep Forgettin'', the Grammyr winning 'Yah Mo Be There', and the Number One pop single 'On My Own', McDonald isn't afraid to challenge expectations, even when others advise against it. McDonald has been a fixture in American pop music for over three decades. Emerging out of the local scene in his hometown of St. Louis, he was part of Steely Dan's touring band in the early 1970s. While working with Steely Dan, McDonald also joined the Doobie Brothers.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 4, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: March 11, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Motown
  • ASIN: B000ZJYBAG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,040 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Brent Faulkner, Jr. VINE VOICE on March 10, 2008
Format: Audio CD
To say that Michael McDonald's "interpretation" of soulful, classic pop songs is lacking in authenticity is a bit of a harsh reality. Though the constant problem with cover albums is gaining the authenticity that the original performer(s) had. On SOUL SPEAK, the exceptionally talented blue-eyed soul/soft-rock star never accomplishes the feat of trumping the originals (though he comes close on opener "I Knew You Were Waiting"), but then that was the same issue present on both MOTOWN and MOTOWN II. What the soul brother does do is cover most tracks convincingly. Those that are less convincing aren't less convincing solely because McDonald isn't the given artist who performed the tracks, but often because some productions on this album are the slightest bit too slick for their own good. SOUL SPEAK is definitely flawed, but it isn't flawed so much that it ruins McDonald's intended effect. Overall, it is a generally likeable album with hits and misses.

"I Knew You Were Waiting" is a brilliant cover by McDonald. The original was a duet between Aretha Franklin and George Michael. McDonalds vocal affectations are much better than Michael could've hoped to have been (not discounting the original by any means, but Franklin outsang him). Sure the production is a bit over slicked, but it works well for McDonald, just as it has on McDonald's previous covers albums. "Living For The City" isn't bad either, but it is Stevie and only Stevie Wonder does Stevie the best. "Love T.K.O." is enjoyable as well, but Teddy Pendergrass shouldn't be fearful of McDonald's fine performance ever trumping his original, "orgasmic" take. "Walk On By" features soulful production, but it doesn't stand out like its predecessors making it McDonald's first miss. It's solid, but not exceptional.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm not going to lie to you, I'm biased. Michael McDonald is an all time favorite of mine. From the days when I would lug that Doobie Brothers 8-Track tape into the Mustang on my way to high school and play it as loud as the dial would allow on all six of those car speakers to each and every solo CD to date. Michael McDonald is a divine conduit of soul... he's one of kind... the essence of pure, raw, soulful energy. The gift is the voice, but it's really so much more than that. There are singers and then there are singers. This artist allows himself to be open and from that place he gives... so you're not just hearing a pop singer deliver a pop song. You're experiencing a soulful human being bringing all that depth to the microphone and that my friend is where it all starts. Soul it is and soul it must be on SOUL SPEAK. Fourteen tracks featuring some of the best songs ever written with the only common thread being that they are yes, soulful... selections from Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley and originals as well that actually are on par with the above inspired composers. Produced by Simon Climie, long time Eric Clapton collaborator, Climie brings a genuine yet polished intention to SOUL SPEAK providing an extremely satisfying, contemporary experience. This is stellar work... a must have for spring/summer listening... and for me, personally, on continual repeat on my iPod.
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Format: Audio CD
I love the voice of Michael McDonald. His voice still has the same soulful quality from the 70s. Most of these tracks are classics like "For Once In My Life" and "Walk On By". The back up singers on Walk On By" are so good on this song. My favorite track is "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher". This song makes me good every time I listen to it. "Love TKO" is another standout here. This is the kind of song that can help a person unwind after a busy day. Mike performs "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" and "Living for the City" with such spirit. These are songs I can tap my feet to and enjoy. "You Don't Know Me" is a beautiful song. The piano playing is great here. "Redemption Song" is a excellent tune about peace. It is interesting to hear the arrangement of this song in a soulful way. The best new track is "Still Not Over You Getting Over Me". This is a lovely love gone wrong song. I like the tempo of the song "Enemy Within". This song is about how everyone has their own demons in life. This disc contains really good soul music.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've read the reviews here and elsewhere, and after buying to this CD and listening to it almost constantly since I bought it, here's my 10 cents worth of thoughts on SoulSpeak.

If you like Michael McDonald, you'll like it. If you don't care for his musical style, (and if you don't, why are you even listening to the cd?) you won't like it.

Let's be honest here. Often, hardcore fans are buying their favorite artists's music not only for the hope of hearing something completely different from previous offerings, but because it hits a musical comfort zone. You liked them then, you like them now because, well, you liked them.

When I buy a MM CD, I want that voice, that soulful approach to a song he brings. I enjoy his own compositions, I'm interested to hear his take on another singers work.

As a musician in his 50's, coming with the musical pedigree he has, he needs to prove nothing. He's been a hit machine, added depth to other's work in duets and as a backup singer, put his own spin on classics. This CD reflects that. Some new work of his own, some interpretations of other's.

I've got Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," and liked McDonald's twist on it here. Likewise, "Love TKO."

Will this CD win him new fans? Maybe. More likely, it rewards those listeners who have enjoyed him in the past and are happy as hell he's still singing, arranging and writing. We are past looking to the Top 40 for the music we want in our lives (although we enjoyed the Top 40 stuff in our day) and are glad to have opportunities to share the journey of musicians we revere.
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