Saturday, 21 February 2009

Ramsey Lewis - Don't It Feel Good - 1975 - Columbia

This is my favourite 1970s album from the keyboard legend, Ramsey Lewis. Such a funky album it totally contrasts the slicker, smoother and totally 80s album that I already champion with vigour, 1984's "The Two Of Us". I would say that you are already intimately familiar with his seminal 1974 "Sun Goddess", and if you dig the vibe of that track then you will want to grab a hold of this album immediately. I'm glad to say that Wounded Bird came to our rescue and reissued it on CD back in 2008 and it sounds FANTASTIC. I cannot go a sentence further without talking about the late, great Charles Stepney. I loved his unique, trademarked style and it's obvious that he rubbed off on the likes of Maurice White and Earth, Wind and Fire. The man was a creative genius. His musical arrangements and signature vocal arrangements were second to none. I totally understand why the latest effort by Liquid Spirits included a fitting tribute to the man simply called "Stepney". They totally understand and dug the man and they encapsulate his essence of that essential, if all too brief song.

All bar one song floors me. The seriously FUNKY title track begins the album. Check that killer bassline and those funky guitars, backing vocals and, of course, Ramsey's mastery of the Fender Rhodes piano. For me the absolute deal-clincher is "Juaacklyn". Stepney weaves absolute magic on this laid-back, dreamy and heavenly song. Please check it out below. The song builds up pace and totally captivates you. Ramsey really does the business here and backing vocalists Morris Stewart, Brenda Mitchell and Derf Reklaw Raheem sound PERFECT as they reach a crescendo with the groove. A song I would gladly want to be buried with. A dreamy interlude leads into a dreamier must-have track called "Something About You". I wish Ramsey would record stuff like this now. He doffs his cap to Earth, Wind and Fire with a competent and different version of "That's the Way Of The World" and very much makes it his own. Sublime stuff, especially when the vocals appear. "I Dig You" is equally superb in an Earth, Wind and Fire fashion, and the set closes on a funky, tripped out note a la George Duke with "Can't Function". The funky electronic keys are so similar to the freestyling used on Fred Wesley's "Blow Your Head" it is amazing. Funk with a capital F. I cannot recommend this album enough so please ensure it has a home in your collection.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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