Looking for the perfect music to take on your trips? Here, our very own TuneSmith, DJ Rob Wood, compiler of the Mr & Mrs Smith: Something for the Weekend CDs makes his essential monthly recommendations…
ALBUM OF THE MONTH: The Way I See It by Raphael Saadiq
When? You’re bored of doom and gloom.
Why? This recession blues-busting CD deserves to be one of the biggest albums of the year.
There’s a mystery that surrounds this album. Despite being released in the US last autumn and being nominated for three Grammys, Raphael Saadiq’s stunning soul album The Way I See It seems to have slipped by almost completely unnoticed. Hopefully that’s because a big UK push is planned for later this year. It certainly deserves it. Don’t let the fact that Saadiq was once the lead vocalist of the bland Tony! Toni! Toné! put you off. He has more than made amends over the years with a string of fine hip-hop and R&B productions. The Way I See It, however, is his masterpiece. A dazzlingly well-crafted and achingly sweet soul album that is immediately up there with Stax and Motown’s best – Stevie Wonder, no less, crops up on harmonica to give a helping hand and a seal of approval. But it is Raphael’s own Smokey Robinson-like vocals that completely steal the show. If the songs ‘100 Yard Dash’ and ‘Love That Girl’ aren’t huge hits, then the whole country needs its ears syringing. This has to be this year’s Back To Black.
THE SMITH CLASSIC: Chasin’ the Jazz Gone By by the Five Corners Quintet
When? You need to blow the cobwebs away.
Why? Even those who think they hate jazz will love this sound sensation.
Listening to The Five Corners Quintet on full throttle is enough to make even the most reticent jazz-refusnik whip off their trainers, don a pair of shiny leather shoes and start freewheelin’ on the dancefloor. This Helsinki-based jazz outfit may be influenced by early Sixties straight-ahead and Latin jazz, but their life-affirming sound is positively bursting with modern club-influenced energy. Led by producer Tuomas Kallio, the Five Corners Quintet is an extension of the much-loved Nuspirit Helsinki collective. Their latest album, Hot Corner, has already received heady reviews, but it is their debut Chasin’ the Jazz Gone By that is most obviously the classic. Released in 2005, it was and remains a fresh and vibrant update of a dusty genre. With collaborations from jazz vocalist Mark Murphy, tracks such as ‘Blue Cycles’ and ‘Trading Eights’ proved Scandinavia to be the home of hip new 21st century jazz with attitude.