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John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:24 pm
by Nigel w
The best new old-fashioned soul album I've heard in years - actually recognisable as something most of us would call 'soul music' , too, rather 'conemporary urban' or whatever the current terminology is.

Possibly my (non world music) album of the year.

The album is already up on Spotify so check it out.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:45 am
by Nick Boyes
I have to agree about this one.
Another worth a listen is Raphael Saadiq 'The Way I See It' which has a very strong Motown modern sound-a-like feel.
Check out the Smokey Robinson feel to this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI6WgeWRUWs

The John Legend version of Wake Up Everybody made me dig out my original Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes on vinyl.
This is on a massive 14 album box set The Philadelphia Story released on the Streets Sounds label in 1986. Compiled by Ralph Tee this contains all the Philly classics plus lots of lesser known tracks in longer versions than the singles. The annoying thing with it is the only track listing is on the back of the box meaning you have to lug the whole lot around if you want to select anything and the accompanying booklet is lacking any information on recording dates, personnel etc.
I don't know if this was ever released in cd format.
Is there any decent book about the Philly sound ?

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:27 am
by AndyM
I have a 3-CD set from the late 90s - The Philly Sound: Gamble & Huff & The Story of Brotherly Love (approx - it's upstairs and I'm lazy). It can't have all the tracks that were on the vinyl box but it has all the tracks most folks would need & often in longer versions. The O'Jays 'I Love Music' (as sublime as Philly got - or pretty much as anyone got) is the full length version that had to be split into parts 1 and 2 on the 7" single.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:33 pm
by john poole
Nick Boyes wrote:Is there any decent book about the Philly sound ?

Tony Cummings wrote a book in the 70s which is still around ("The Sound of Philadelphia"); this is more recent and I would imagine more detailed -

"A House on Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul" by John A. Jackson - I've not read it, but the same author's book on Alan Freed suggests that it may be worth investigation.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:27 pm
by howard male
Sorry, but I just don’t get John Legend. That name doesn’t really help in the way it rathe embarrassingly tries to subliminally suggest he already has legendary status (his real name is Stephens.) And why cover a bunch of songs which are already classics without adding anything new or original to them? Legend seems to me to just be a slightly more credible version of the whole X Factor karaoke-isation of pop.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:51 pm
by Nigel w
That name doesn’t really help ... (his real name is Stephens.)

Perhaps we should start a new thread:
Artists we refuse to like because of their names


Like Bowie, who should clearly have remaind David Jones!

I do remember thinking circa 1973 that there was no way was I going to listen to a band called the New York Dolls. Not because it sounded effeminate, simply because I thought it made them seem silly, like a teeny-bop band.

And part of the reason the Small Faces became the Faces, I'm sure, was because they realised nobody would take them seriously any more with a diminutive in their name...

Camel was another one. Why name a band after the most ridiculous creature on God's earth? And the Electric Prunes. Not to mention the Strawberry Alarm Clock. One could go on and on. So I shall shut up and go back to lstening to the wonderful Wake Up by John Stephens and the Roots.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:06 am
by garth cartwright
Thanks for the pointer, Nigel, I went to Spotify and listened and its a solid effort, well sung, well done, if lacking the sense of surprise I like in artists who are working within a familiar genre. Their version of I Can't Write Left Handed sent me back to Bill Withers' Live At Carnegie Hall - surely the greatest live album of all time! Bill Withers, what a huge and underrated talent!

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:02 pm
by howard male
Bill Withers is a huge and underrated talent, John Legend is just a talent.

Jones to Bowie was a necessary move because there was already a David Jones in the pop biz, and ‘Bowie’ just has a ring to it - rather than being the veiled hip-hopish boast that ‘Legend’ is.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:22 pm
by Nigel w
howard male wrote:Jones to Bowie was a necessary move because there was already a David Jones in the pop biz, and ‘Bowie’ just has a ring to it


I knew that one would get you going, Howard!

He did of course release his first records as Davie Jones. Ane he changed his name to Bowie in January 1966, before Davy Jones and the Monkees had released a record or the TV series had started. So that oft-cited reason doesn't really stack up.

To me, Davie Jones-David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust was just a case of that classic mid-60s thing of relaunching an unsuccesful career under a new name, like Paul Gadd-Paul Raven-Gary Glitter or Bernard Jewry-Shane Fenton-Alvin Stardust.

Slightly better music, perhaps. But not at all uncommon at the time.

Today we have a similar thing and no hip-hop act wouild dream of putting out records under their real name. 'Legend' seems fairly unexceptional alongside such monikers as Snoop Doggy Dog and Puff Daddy!

I don't know but I would guess that Legend's inspiration for the name was probably not hip-hop derived at all, but Stevie Wonder (who, of course, was born Steveland Judkins).

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:49 pm
by john poole
There was another Davy Jones who recorded for Pye Records prior to the future Mr Bowie, or the future Monkee, although I'm not sure he was ever confused with the other two (except perhaps by unscrupulous dealers hoping to sell his old records).
http://www.dmbeatles.com/picture.php?picture=665

Perhaps Bowie should have changed his name again around 1968 in order to disassociate himself from the person who had made those sub-Anthony Newley novelty records?

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:27 pm
by howard male
They’re better than Newley not sub Newley, John (but then I would say that.)

‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’, ‘Silly Boy Blue’, ‘The Gospel According to Tony Day’, ‘Karma Man’, ‘In the Heat of the Morning’ – all exquisite period pieces.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:24 pm
by AndyM
howard male wrote:They’re better than Newley not sub Newley, John (but then I would say that.)

‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’, ‘Silly Boy Blue’, ‘The Gospel According to Tony Day’, ‘Karma Man’, ‘In the Heat of the Morning’ – all exquisite period pieces.



Exquisite?? Each to their own & all that.

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:50 pm
by NormanD
I think he went very much downhill after his Decca recordings (esp 'Laughing Gnome'), and only recovered with his Tin Machine "project".

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:59 pm
by john poole
howard male wrote:They’re better than Newley not sub Newley, John (but then I would say that.)

‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’, ‘Silly Boy Blue’, ‘The Gospel According to Tony Day’, ‘Karma Man’, ‘In the Heat of the Morning’ – all exquisite period pieces.

I was thinking more of the singles 'The Laughing Gnome' and 'Love You 'Till Tuesday' - the first Bowie records that I heard (along with the following song that he wrote for Oscar (aka Paul Nicholas) -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP7BfjrOvj8

Re: John Legend & The Roots : Wake Up

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:23 am
by Rob Hall
I have to say that this album is shaping up to be one of the best of the year for me. I love it. I had my reservations at first, but the plus points that it has far outweigh its few drawbacks. There's some superb singing, great playing, solid arrangements... and the production is first class (though it's not mixed for crappy headphones). The downsides are the rapping (which I can live with); the extended "I Can't Write Left Handed" (which actually works if you pay close attention to it, but as it's the better part of 12 minutes, you may not always be in the position to pay close attention); and the surprisingly lightweight treatment of "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free". But like I say, the positives far outweigh the negatives.