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Danny and the Champions of the World - What Kind of Love

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 7 / 2015

Danny and the Champions of the World - What Kind of Love
Label: Loose Music
Format: CD


Breathtaking fifth studio album from the UK’s Danny and The Champions of the World, who, drawing from the golden age of soul, unleash their own take on the genre by adding a country hue to produce a classic blue-eyed soul album

For their fifth studio album Danny & The Champions of the World leave the Americana-hued sound that the band peddled so successfully on earlier albums to fuse the soul and country elements which have also been a part of their work to make one of the most comforting and realistic soul albums of recent times. Front man Danny Wilson has said that every song on ‘What Kind Of Love’ “is a love-song of some fashion” and that the title of the album recalls “some mythical jazz or soul record”, which just about sums up the ten songs on this latest collection perfectly. While the tags ‘Caledonian Soul’ and ‘Northern Soul’ have already been hurled about when ‘What Kind Of Love’ is dissected, there’s really only one of those words needed to describe this collection of songs and that’s soul, with a capital 'S'. Any generation from the 50s until the present day will hear their own particular reference to soul music in these ten songs. From Otis and Al Green, through Van Morrison to Mick Hucknall, taking in any other vocalist who has ever poured a little emotion into their music, it can’t be denied, there are elements of them all in here. Add in a little of ‘Get Happy’ and ‘Almost Blue’-era Costello in there, maybe a little of Kevin Rowland and…you’re still not halfway there. The fact is that Danny Wilson and his boys have made the blue-eyed soul classic of all time. Danny & The Champions of the World are no strangers to this particular pair of ears; those Grand Drive albums are testament to that, but if I’d had to guess who was behind ‘What Kind Of Love’ then Danny Wilson, for all his exceptional talent, wouldn’t have been the first name to have left my mouth. The truth is I’d have been hard pressed to come up with a name or band. While Danny & The Champions of the World have proven time and again that they are one of our most ambitious and talented bands, the fact that these ten songs are amongst the most soulful, heartfelt and joyous that this writer has ever heard (and my walls are going to collapse under the weight of the obscure and not so obscure soul albums from my youth) and that they have also been written and recorded by a UK band is almost beyond belief. Let’s put one thing straight; Danny Wilson, unlike so many vocalists who think that they are soul singers doesn’t have a classic soul voice. He’s so obviously not trying to emulate Otis, Al, Sam or any other soul singer you care to name. Wilson is an honest singer, his almost weather-beaten vocals are at their emotional best on this collection of songs, and, although it’s obvious he is pouring his heart and soul into his performances here, he’s not trying to outdo or copy anyone. In staying true to his own vision and by not trying to sound like anyone but Danny Wilson, this talented musician has created what so many have tried to do but failed simply by trying to be someone else; Danny and his band have made an album that pays homage to classic soul while adding enough originality to make the collection worthy of a place next to those classic albums cut in the golden age of soul. It’s all here; a choir of sweet but sassy female backing vocalists, those Memphis horns, those bluesy guitar licks and on songs such as ‘Just Be Yourself’ a slab of pure Southern soul that Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham would be proud to be associated with. The production of the songs by Wilson and bass player Chris Clarke is spot-on, bringing out the best not only in the songs but also in every musician involved. The band’s cover of Tyrone Davis’ ‘Can I Change My Mind?’, which will be known to any soul aficionado, is, with the greatest respect to Davis, the version that this writer will turn to in future. With a more pronounced guitar line than the original, gospel-inspired backing vocals and slightly less smooth vocals than those Davis dressed the song in, this isn’t just a perfunctory cover of a soul classic but a reworking that, while holding onto all the great qualities of the original, emphases sounds that were buried or even missing completely on the Davis version. That the song isn’t even the strongest on offer here says plenty about the song writing skills of Danny Wilson. The title track mixes in a little country flavour to The Champs' soul stew, and, although Wilson still doesn’t try to emulate any of the great soul singers, he proves his worth vocally. The song would have been tailor-made for Otis Redding to cove;, it’s that good. ‘Words on the Wind’ takes the sound a little further by adding a little classic 70's rock into the mix, while there are elements of the Staple Singers in ‘It’ll Be Alright in the End’. The album ends with ‘The Sound of a Train’, which is more of a laid-back jazzy groove than what has gone before and a fine way to end an album of love-based songs. There’s little doubt that Danny & The Champions Of The World have produced their most satisfying and accomplished album to date with ‘What Kind Of Love’.

Track Listing:-
1 Clear Water
2 Precious Cargo
3 This Is Not A Love Song
4 Can I Change My Mind
5 What Kind Of Love
6 Words On The Wind
7 Just Be Yourself
8 It'll Be Alright In The End
9 Thinking About My Friend
10 The Sound Of A Train

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