Huey Lewis & The News - Soulsville (Proper)
Jim Pusey | Monday, 04 October 2010
The cinematic re-release of Back To The Future is likely to remind many people of Huey Lewis & The News. It seems the band that have been in semi-retirement for the last decade, are hoping to capitalise on that profile boost by releasing new album Soulsville.
But instead of recreating their popular 80's radio friendly rock, the 60 year old and his band seem to have followed a recent trend. Just like Phil Collins raiding the Motown cupboard for material, Lewis is revisiting the glory days of soul label Stax. The 9 year gap since the last Huey Lewis & The News album has seen the band continue to play live shows and therefore it is surprising that there's no new material emerging from jamming on the road.
Soulsville is not an attempt to storm the charts, but it is clear from the first note that there is a genuine love for the source material. For a band that played soul-tinged rock in the first place, the album is a logical progression, what may surprise however is some of the tracks the band has chosen.
From a label that had the talents of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Isaac Hayes on its roster, Lewis has dug a little deeper to recreate tracks such as The Mar-Keys' 'Grab This Thing'. The band's horn section is prominent on every track with faithful versions of the source material, but there is also a feeling that they are just going through the motions.
Laid back grooves such as 'Respect Yourself' and 'Cry To Me' set the tone for much of the album, with impressive gospel backing vocals. Elsewhere Solomon Burke's 'Got To Get You Off My Mind' finds Huey comfortably delivering lines such as "If we had stayed together 'til June, I'd have probably been a groom". However any suggestion of heartbreak in the song seems to be lost to his almost overconfident vocals.
A covers record has the opportunity to deliver a fresh perspective on the chosen songs. However despite not sounding a day older than the 80's pop star you'll remember, Huey Lewis doesn't quite seize the chance to breathe new life into the material. Soulsville is a competent and faithful homage to Stax, but it remains primarily a curiosity for those that remember the songs first time round.