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GENE VAN BUREN: STILL (GVR RECORDS)
Many have said that this guy is one of soul music’s best kept secrets. Maybe that’s the case because from his Motown album “What’s Your Pleasure” in 1982, his recorded output has been minimal. However, like all good things, Gene is back with his first studio album for over twenty years. Titled “Still” and following in the Motown tradition, this release strives for perfection irrespective of how irrational that can be from the outset. Listening to this release over and over, I’m drawn into the reassuring, often sophisticated, music and vocals that can only be attributed to the ‘old school’ type of singer without labelling him as ‘uncool’ or ‘not credible’. Kicking off with “Only You” with its well crafted lyrics, it is a little low key for an opening track but hey, there’s more interesting things to come. With some trepidation I started listening to Gene’s take on Marvin’s ground breaking “What’s Going On”. Sure, it’s a tribute – a bold, and often irresponsible move by any artist for whatever the intention where comparisons are futile - so suffice to say, Gene’s version is a new approach to the classic into which he injects his own style while retaining some of Marvin’s original. “One People One World”, striking in presentation with sentiments that carry over those expressed in “What’s Going On”, further exemplifies Gene’s huge love for Marvin. However, it’s the CD’s title that grabs immediate attention: instantly catchy, memorable and surely a potential single? The hook line is compulsive and I’ll bet you’ll be humming the chorus after a couple of plays.

The full blooded ballad “One” is the first extracted single, which blissfully oozes across the unfussy melody. It could well give Gene the long awaited success he deserves. “Automatic” gently lifts up the pace to a trot, while retaining the unique subtle approach that’s apparent through the CD, while “Together Still” with its keyboard introduction is more direct in vocal, climbing to an easy crescendo. Gene wrote or co-wrote most of the tracks here, pulling on his vast experience in the business, to present a CD that looks set to re-launch his career as a hugely credible singer. Check it out!

Rating: 8


About the Writer
Sharon Davis ran the Four Tops fan club before spearheading Motown Ad Astra, catering for all the Motown acts, where she edited the in-house magazine TCB. Was publicist for Fantasy, Stax and Salsoul before joining Motown Records in London. Formed her own press/promotion company Eyes & Ears, worked for Blues & Soul magazine and website, and became a full time author and researcher. To date Sharon has written eleven books (her last A Girl Called Dusty published by Carlton Books) and she’s working on her next - Divas Of Motown. As a researcher, Sharon assisted Diana Ross with her autobiography Secrets Of A Sparrow, and is now in constant demand for her knowledge about Motown and its artists.
  

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