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People Gonna Talk

4.6 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 7, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"2006 Grammy Nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year"

"James is one of the best voices, and best kept secrets, in British R & B and soul. Check him out." -Van Morrison

On his U.S. debut, James Hunter proves to be a man of impeccable taste who has learned from his influences rather than simply imitating them. 'People Gonna Talk' features 14 original tracks written and arranged by Hunter, who partnered with producer Liam Watson to create a wonderfully rich, classic soul sound. The album was recorded at Watson's Toe Rag Studios in East London (also home to The White Stripes' 'Elephant'), where vintage analog equipment captured the warmth of Hunter's authentic and heartfelt sensibilities.


Van Morrison calls James Hunter "the best voice and best-kept secret in British R&B and soul." And the Colchester native and former busker does, indeed, sound like a one-man blue-eyed revival on his U.S. debut, People Gonna Talk. He navigates 14 self-penned ska (the title track), soul-blues ("Kick It Around"), and primal funk ("No Smoke Without Fire") tunes with panache. Hunter's voice unerringly carves out graceful melodies and soars into falsetto at whim over his horn-sparked band as he digs through his vast bag of traditional, stinging blues'n'soul licks on electric guitar. But... there's something missing. Although the disc was cut live in the studio, it lacks the vibrant energy of his stage performances. And Hunter borrows so extensively from his influences that he sounds like he's covering Bobby Bland, Howard Tate, James Brown, and the Studio One roster rather than traveling his own path. Nevertheless, as Morrison intimates, Hunter's estimable singing and playing will please fans of classic R&B and soul. --Ted Drozdowski

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. People Gonna Talk
  2. No Smoke Without Fire
  3. You Can't Win
  4. Riot in My Heart
  5. Til Your Fool Comes Home
  6. Mollena
  7. I'll Walk Away
  8. Watch & Chain
  9. Kick It Around
  10. Don't Come Back
  11. It's Easy to Say
  12. Tell Her for Me
  13. Talkin' 'Bout My Love
  14. All Through Cryin'

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 7, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B000E1NX1S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,270 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lonya VINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Who would have thought that a throwback CD that takes us back to the R&B days of forty years ago could come from a singer and musician from Colchester, England? I didn't expect it but I'm glad I discovered James Hunter while flipping through the radio dials one day. I heard the tail end of "Don't Come Back" (Track 10) and was hooked. The voice sounded familiar and I expected to recognize the name of the singer afterwards but I had no clue. Intrigued, I went out and purchased the CD. I was not disappointed and it will remain near the top of my play list for quite some time.

"People Gonna Talk" is Hunter's first U.S.-release. It contains 14 excellent tracks, all written by Hunter. The title track, People Gonna Talk, Mollena, and Don't Come Back, were particularly good. Hunter does well both on the upbeat tracks and the more mournful, bluesy tracks. His voice and his guitar playing work well on both types of song.

The arrangements are classic, relatively simple R&B arrangements that had a strong Memphis and Southern feel to it. Hunter has a distinctive voice with a good range that at times had echoes of Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Aaron Neville. This is not to say that Hunter can match any of those giants but it is clear that Hunter's voice has some common musical DNA with all three which is pretty high praise. The downside to hearing these echoes is the concern that Hunter is more imitative than creative. That is a legitimate concern to be sure but after listening to the CD a number of times I think it safe to say that Hunter does have a style of his own even while paying homage to musicians he must have learned from while he was growing up.

If you like classic R&B you will like People Gonna Talk. The CD had the dual benefit of bringing back fond memories of the music of my youth with fresh new songs but a talented, young performer.
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Format: Audio CD
Not since Lenny Kravitz has an artist come on the scene with new music that sounds like it was 40 years old...and that's as far as you can get from being a bad thing. Thank God for Rounder Records, and for independent labels.

This man doesn't sound like anybody but James Hunter, influences notwithstanding, and you could have picked my teeth off the floor when I heard him speak on NPR. I couldn't believe a man that spoke like this could sound like this. I was sold instantly.

You know, if young black artists would rather sound like [name your favorite god-awful rap music artist] than Dee Clark, Billy Stewart, and Jackie Wilson, they've got only themselves to blame if the Europeans pick up the ball they so willingly let slip from their hands. More power to them! This is the stuff I grew up with and love. I'm ecstatic to find new material in the new millennium that's not a remake that has that same sound. And if it weren't for the Internet (and public radio), nobody'd ever know about this artist.

I always wanted to know why there couldn't be singers today that can write their own songs and have a distinct style yet still pay homage to the past. Folks, we've found the one artist so far in the world that can do it!

It's about time.
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Format: Audio CD
James Hunter's musical style harkens back to the days of classic 50's and early 60's R&B and soul, yet is wonderfully fresh and original and pays homage to these wonderful, vintage sounds without simply imitating them. Listen to James Hunter's first U.S. CD release "People Gonna Talk" and you will hear parts Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown and Ray Charles. Having toured and played with Van Morrison in the 1990's, Van asserts that "James is one of the best kept secrets in British R'n'B and Soul. Check Him Out." James Hunter's band features a baritone and tenor saxophone, stand-up bass, drums, and skillful guitar played by James himself. The 14 top-notch original songs on "People Gonna Talk" contain infectious vocals and songwriting that will stick in your head after the very first listen. The catchy title track features a ska beat to give the song a classic, rhythmic feel. Other standout songs include "Talkin 'Bout My Love", "I'll Walk Away" and "No Smoke Without Fire", which blends an upbeat horn arrangement with James Hunter's brilliant vocals and clever songwriting:

The alibi you sold me

You know it ain't water tight

A little birdie told me

And I got you dead to rights

No one's calling you a liar but

There's no smoke without fire

The liner notes to this CD contain all of the lyrics as well as some cool artwork and illustrations of the band members drawn by James Hunter himself.

If you ever get the opportunity to see James Hunter perform live, treat yourself and you'll be very glad you did. I recently saw James Hunter perform in Philadelphia at the World Cafe Live, and his touring band was superb ...
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Recently, I've been doing quite a bit of revisiting the roots of that musical tree still growing in my heart. I made this "new" discovery of which I was totally gobsmacked at its just plain coolness. I am speaking James Hunter's "People Gonna Talk." To a wild reception, completely out of the blue, one of our most talented, yet little-known British cousins have taken the genre of "Music Americana" and transformed it to another, higher level of brilliance. Some may agree, others may not, but I must put it out there that everybody should check-out this soulful English artist (although one would likely never guess his heritage at first listen).

I serendipitously happen to catch an interview with him on our local NPR station. From the strength of Mr. Hunter's generous, infectiously affable manner I immediately went out and purchased the CD. What a refreshing surprise to enjoy a disc COMPLETELY devoid of ANY crappy track on it, and every single song is originally penned. His sound, if one can imagine, is a sort of mish-mash-homage to Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Robert Cray, Otis Redding, and Junior Walker (among others) all fused into a listening experience that's both brand spanking new and, at the same moment, oddly and lovingly familiar. His back-up band is as tight as can be imagined; and it truly is high time for the return of the smokin' Sax solo. Even if R&B is not your particular cup of tea in musical taste, I suggest a listen before judging. My 4-year-old daughter is *totally* into this CD and we've played it constantly since purchased. Her fave track is number 6: the sweet ballad for "Mollena." My favorite (which keeps switching daily) is currently track number 7: the haunting, sauntering, can't-get-it-outta-my-mind "I'll Walk Away." This has to be my MOST beloved disc for 2006 and I am delighted to give it five-PLUS stars!
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