Man, I like Rick Strickland. He is one talented guy. He recently sent me a copy of his newest CD and then called to talk to me about it. Island Soul was released on KHP Records on April 5, along with all the other “just in time for SOS” singles and discs. He had a CD release party at JB Pivots in Charleston. “We tried something a little different,” he said, “and played the whole album during the first set. I was a little nervous about it, but there were several standing ovations during the set and the dance floor was packed.”
Rick, who worked with Todd Rundgren earlier in his career and considers him a mentor, went on to tell me that he felt this was a “60s soul kind of record. It’s as if Marvin Gaye, the Stylistics and the Beach Boys got together and made a record.” There are 12 tracks on this CD, all written, produced, arranged, engineered and mixed by Rick Strickland. In fact, except for Art Benton ..boards, it’s Rick playing all instruments and handling all background vocals.That’s a lot of hats.
Track One is “Bubba White’s.” According to Rick, it’s in the vein of “The Devil Made Me Do It” or “She Can’t Fix Grits.” And except for an intro that I suspect DJs will cut, it’s a great dance tune and I can see it filling the floor.
“Love the Night Away,” Track Two, which is the one Rick likes the best, is something smooth, something kind of mellow (oh sorry, just entertaining myself here). Next up is “I’m Happy,” and although this is another intro I’m not nuts about, it’s got a good solid shag groove.
Track Four is “Best Love,” a pure cha cha as far as I’m concerned. “I Need Some Money” is loads of fun and I think it’ll be a great live number for Rick. Track Six, “So Do I,” may be my favorite. It’s a sweet ballad that really showcases Rick’s voice along with his songwriting skills. “Your Love Is My Rock” is another really emotional piece, with a shag beat that should keep people out on the floor.
Track Eight is “Winner,” a smoothie that again demonstrates Rick Strickland’s immense vocal talents. A bit of trivia here, Rick wrote that one back in 1974.
“Nice While It Lasted” is up next, and it’s classic Rick Strickland – smooth and mellow with some really sweet harmonies. For me, however, it invites comparison to “Something Smooth,” but doesn’t quite measure up. I’ve often wondered … once you’ve done “Something Smooth,” what do you do next? (Yes, I know … “One Step Closer,”) but “Something Smooth” was something wonderful. Tough to top.
“Together We’ll Find a Way,” with its nice lilting melody is Track Ten. “I Don’t Wanna Know” is one I’d expect to get a lot of radio play. The final track is “Bad Situation,” which, in a word, is … funky. A second word would be fun.
Review by Dariel Bendin
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