Arriving fairly swiftly on the heels of their live album, What Kind of Love is the fifth studio set from Danny & the Champions of the World which finds Danny Wilson and the boys in the sort of brassy, Caledonian soul mood that will inevitably prompt thoughts of Van (and perhaps Sam Cooke) tempered with northern and Memphis colours and burnished with some country pedal steel. An unabashedly upbeat and romantic album that addresses love in all its shapes, sizes and hues, it opens with the horn swaying honeyed warmth of Clear Water, setting the mood for what follows.
The backing vocals arranged by Romeo Stodard of The Magic Numbers, Wilson says Precious Cargo reminds him of 70s Ben E King, but a more ready comparison might be Rod Stewart at his vintage best, while the slow burn, steel streaked This Is Not A Love Song does indeed, as per intention, come across as a Nashville Skyline-era Dylan number put through a Gladys Knight and the Pips blender.
The band don’t record cover versions, but they’ve made an exception here to include their skitterish version of Tyrone Davis’ late 60s R&B hit Can I Change My Mind, complete with niggling good vibe guitar riff. Apparently the original was a regular in the tour van, from whence it would seem a fair amount of inspiration and ideas sprang, another case in point being the funky sax propelled groove of Words On The Wind distilled from listening to the Allmans, 70s Grateful Dead and the Doobies while the congas are a nod to Manassas period Stephen Stills, though the ‘sha la la’ bit is pure Morrison.
A slow waltzing country soul number, the title track marks a writing reunion between Wilson and old friend Joe Kinsey from Billy Vincent that’s produced another track you could imagine hearing on Rod’s Atlantic Crossing. The influence of that era of British rock and R&B crossover can also be heard clearly on Just be Yourself, another slow dance soul tune Wilson readily admits was aiming for a Stewart feel.
On the other hand, It’ll Be Alright In The End has a Staples Singers touch to its gospel rhythm groove, Wilson’s croaky rasp complemented by the cooing backing singers, parping sax and bluesy guitar solo. Wilson reckons Thinking About My Friend, has a Steely Dan vibe, though that’s not something I hear myself, but its relaxed easy southern soulfulness easily have been found coming from the jukebox at Hall & Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette.
Sound of a Train, co-written with Ian Siegal, a shuffling drum beat and simple repeated guitar line, flecked with background pedal steel and, in the final stretch, sax, plays out on a cool jazzy feel, a perfect end to an album that will leave you with a warm glow on the inside, and, hey, that’s what love’s about, right.
Review by: Mike Davies
Out Now via Loose Music
Order via Amazon