Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo
Funk Garage/Mascot Label
Smouldering Soul and Fiery Funk From a Master-Craftsman.
I’ve always had eclectic musical tastes, but Funk and Jazz-Funk have mostly passed me by; probably because I associate both with Nightclubs, and being the boring old sod I was as a young man, hardly ever visited such establishments.
Oddly enough; the older I got the more intrigued I became; but apart from a couple of George Benson, Commodores, Jeffrey Osborne (and Various Artist) albums, the RMHQ cupboard is bare.
So, I grabbed the opportunity to review this with both hands!
I presume most people reading this already know Maceo Parker’s backstory; and if you don’t there’s more than enough on the internet to fill a Tuesday evening in; so I will get straight into the music!
The ‘groove’ starts with more relish than a NY Hot Dog on opening track Cross The Track; a slinky dance floor filler that’s just as listenable in the comfort of your own home; but be prepared to find yourself dancing when you least expect it.
I don’t even know if Nightclubs still exist; but if they do just like that first song; most every cut here is destined to make you want to cut a rug; with or without the love of your life opposite you.
For the unaccustomed like myself there’s a glorious mix of old and new songs here; all sprinkled with Parker’s saxophonic diamond dust and superbly soulful singing voice.
Of the songs I recognised the Good Doctor’s Right Place/Wrong Time gets a 21st Century makeover, with the Voodoo slightly diluted but the Funk turned up to the MAX! Then there’s The Meters’s, Just Kissed My Baby which I actually have on a VA album; but hardly recognised in this format which sounds like something Allen Toussaint may have recorded; which isn’t as odd as you’d think; because Maceo follows it with a reworking of Toussaint’s own Yes We Can, Can ……… which sounds as cool as it’s apt in the current Geo-Political climate!
I’ve never really been a Prince fan; but Parker’s slow and soulful rendering of the Purple One’s Other Side of The Pillow sounds as if Parker had been listening to Brook Benton and Nat King Cole on the ride to the studio; and that’s meant as a huge compliment.
While not my favourite Aretha song; Maceo and friends really do add extra edge and Funk (of course) to Rock Steady and bring it right up to date.
Of the new tracks; Hard Times evokes more memories of the Blue Note Club than it will Studio 54; and it adds a really cool vibe to an otherwise uptempo album.
I’m not sure when Compared To What was first written; but it’s got a real hard edge to the Maceo’s message in the lyrics; and without being outright angry; it could easily be the Sound of Summer 2020 across America, in the way that Curtis and Marvin managed many moons ago.
Which brings me to my Official Favourite Song here; it was very, very nearly the finale Grazing in The Grass with Parker’s saxophone sounding almost Angelic; but man you have to have big cajones to include a song MACEO; (instrumental actually) named after yourself; but Maceo Parker does it with poise, self-assurance and Class with a capital C.
This is Maceo Parker’s 16th full length album; but the first in 8 years and …… yes indeed; it’s been well worth the wait.