Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Bodies & Souls
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Broadway & Vocalists
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Under-appreciated Contempo Gem from Man Tran
J. Collins | 06/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Following the Pop success of "Boy From New York City" and jazz recognition for the album that spawned that hit, "Mecca For Moderns," Man Tran finally had a bit of breathing space. "Bodies and Souls" was released in 1983, and though it solidified the group's reputation as the pre-eminent vocal quartet in both musical genres, it didn't have the commercial success it deserved. The mixture of oldies, novelty tunes and jazz compositions that marked many of their earlier releases was temporarily set aside, and "Bodies..." presented the group in a more soulful, R&B setting. Of course, there were still plenty of Pop hooks and Jazz-styled vocalizing, but song by song distinctions became less noticeable. New producer Richard Rudolph had the same canny ability to create lush, contemporary-sounding vehicles for Man Tran as Jay Graydon (who helmed "Extensions" and "Mecca..."); yet his production had a more spontaneous groove. The single, "Spice of Life" is an excellent example of how he helped the group achieve a soulful (yet still Pop-friendly) sound. On other tracks like "This Independence," "Soldier Of Fortune" and "Code of Ethics," he introduced the group to the kind of synthesized settings that were common in "New Wave" records of the period. The group's vocal warmth provided a strange but pleasing counterpoint to the "cold" musical textures of the synths. Current but not quite trendy, this is probably the most "contemporary" record the group ever made.That's not to say that the rich vocal layers and textures of Man Tran's earlier recordings were totally abandoned. The Grammy-winning "Why Not!" was a potent reminder of the group's jazz chops. Similarly, "Down South Camp Meetin'" gave the group's vocalese fans a fun-filled trip down memory lane, with new lyrics provided by longtime friend/collaborator, Jon Hendricks. (A Swing styled version of this same song appears on the group's most recent studio release, "Swing.") Also, the album's closer, "The Night That Monk Returned To Heaven" paid tribute to the great Thelonius Monk; the airy, other-worldly grace of their vocals is spine-tingling.Solo standouts include Janis on "Mystery" (later covered by Anita Baker), Tim on "This Independence," and Cheryl on "Goodbye Love." Alan Paul was less successful with "Malaise En Malaisie," a soggy-sweet ballad that brings out the worst in his nasal delivery.Apart from a muddled lyric here and there (the trite 'rags to riches' tale in "American Pop" and the inexplicably heavy-handed sentiments of "Code of Ethics"), "Bodies and Souls" is a vocal classic, and a pretty spiffy Pop album to boot.-Mic"
A MYSTERY SOLVED!
johntaylor | lynn, ma. USA | 03/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So glad to have found this on cd. I wore out my lp a long time ago. Though i have heard only two other Manhattan Transfer releases they did not have the effect this one does on me. There is something about the combination of moods, vocal stylings of each member and the song choices that make this one of my all time favorite albums by ANYONE. There really is some great singing on this cd...understatement! All the cuts are great but start with "mystery", "goodbye love", "why not", "down south"...all. *****"
Another great recording by MT
Andre S. Grindle | 08/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Plenty of variety is found on this recording, from the slower, melancholy "Goodbye, Love" to the uptown swingin' jazz number, "Why Not," whose vocal parts were arranged by Janis Siegel. A highlight of this one for me is, "Down South Camp Meetin'," which uses an established, instrumental recording, and cleverly puts words to it. Check out Cheryl Bentyne's "clarinet" solo on that one! This recording also features at least one pop number that made the charts, "Spice of Life," which includes a harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder. I just wish I could understand the words to "Code of Ethics!""