Crack Of Dawn ‘Spotlight’ (G-THREE) 5/5

This year has been one of the most traumatic of my adult life, my wife being diagnosed with Cancer twice and undergoing two horrendous operations, as I write this I’m in the midst of an extended period of compassionate leave in an effort to care for her. All appears to be going well but the hunt for the music has been put on the back burner, likewise I’m only snatching twenty minutes here and there in my sanctuary at the top of the stairs, I simply don’t appear to have any time. But when albums like this one arrive I simply had to make some time and get to know it. From the off, it sounds like an old friend, musically modern but with a carbon footprint firmly in 1976, the year of the fabulous Epic Records 45 “It’s Alright” backed with a superb version of “Move Any Mountains”. Throughout, the sound is that of the better end of mid 70s disco with huge doses of soul. The original group had lead vocals J W McGhee and today we have the fabulous voice of one Michael Dunston, and doesn’t he sound at home with this lot.

As with all downloads there is no information as to who’s doing what but the good news is a physical CD is on the way, in fact mine is on order already from Simply Soul Records (plug plug). I have managed to source the musicians from that site; Guitarist and producer Carl Harvey has been lead guitarist with Toots & the Maytals since their 1980 “Live at Hammersmith” album, sharing in their Grammy win in 2004. His work with Toots & the Maytals included world tour support slots with the likes of Rolling Stones and Santana. Also aboard is Rupert Harvey, founder of Canada’s most successful reggae band, Messenjah, not to mention sax player Alvin Jones; trombonist Trevor Daley who has played with reggae behemoths, Third World; the Latin tones of trumpeter Alexis Baro; keyboardist Bela Hayman; drummer Carl Otway, bassist Charles Sinclair who has played with Al Green. Soul radio have been all over “Season’s For Love” and “Your Love”, two very charismatic dancers which could easily make a quality 45.

They have revisited “It’s Alright” and it’s a cracking version too, superb choppy dancer, of course the music is real, with fat slapping percussion, thumping bass and those horns. The only slowie on the album is the title track and it’s a slow grower but when it get’s there you just have to revisit it time and time again. “Ol SKool” is just that ‘chacking’ guitar, sweeping strings, thumping percussion, it has that back in the day feel and the vocals give us a history lesson of this great music, the rare groove sound of “Keep the Faith” is another grower which showcases the groups harmonies, there are no duff tracks on here, you need this, you really do.

Brian Goucher