Saint Etienne's eighth record, Words and Music by Saint Etienne, is centered on a theme that has been part of their music since the group began. They've always been one of the most nostalgic groups around, draping themselves in the visuals, styles, and sounds of the past while still staying modern. They've rarely seemed to be touched by the past on a personal level, but now perhaps age and experience have given them a reason to look back at their own lives and do a bit of summing up…
SCHUBERT: SONGS WITHOUT WORDS is an elegant recital by pianist Daria Hovora and cellist Mischa Maisky that allows us to hear Schubert songs, beautifully rich as they are with the texts as sung by many of our finest singers, here solely for the instrumental line. Somehow the interplay between melody and accompaniment (always an equal partnership in Schubert's hands) is heightened by this experience. Not that the entire album is appropriated by the cello standing in for a vocalist: the opening work is "Sonata for Arpeggione and Klavier" and is one of the highlights of the CD. But just listen to the performances of 'Standchen', 'An die Musik' and 'Du bist die Ruhe' and hear the extraordinary marriage between the piano and cello, singing as beautifully as any other version. This is one of those CDs that bears keeping out for multiple listenings in the late evening.
This collection on the U.K.'s Soul Brother imprint is a very compelling look at a big slice of Freddie Hubbard's long career as a leader, and one that gets ignored for the most part. Hubbard recorded over 20 records between Backlash, his Atlantic debut in 1966, and Ride Like the Wind for Elektra in 1982, with lengthy stops at Columbia and CTI (as well some straight hard bop and post-bop outings for labels Fantasy and Pablo). In many cases, some of these original recordings were not only disregarded by more traditional jazzheads, they were regarded with outright hostility. It didn't matter to Hubbard, however, because at the time, these were among his best-selling albums and connected with the public deeply.
7th Wonder were a soul-funk group from Alabama with a style similar to Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang, a self-contained vocal and instrumental unit whose versatility yielded splendid funky dance tracks and melodic balladry of the Southern Soul genre. Having made their chart debut on Abet Records from Nashville in 1973 with their version of Kris Kristofferson's ballad For The Good Times, the group signed with Parachute in 1978 to score R&B hit singles with Words Don t Say Enough and My Love Ain't Never Been This Strong both featuring on the Words album, recorded mainly at the renowned Muscle Shoals Studio with their house musicians, then moved to the dedicated soul sister-label Chocolate City in 1980, where I Enjoy Ya and The Tilt both also reached the R&B top 50 and featured in their second album, Thunder, recorded at the Malaco Studio in Jackson, Mississippi.