As long as we’ve known each other,the one common thread that my blogging partner Henrique and I have referenced is the rather emasculated attitude soul singer/songwriter Joe Thomas,mostly known simply as Joe,has regarding the romantic subjects of his songs. Not that he is any innovator or even the only artist of his kind with this sort of attitude or anything. But it was bought up in reference to the fact that,aside from lyrical content,the vast majority of his music simply wasn’t possessed of a great deal of instrumental vitality. Of course, instrumentalists with a strong sense of vitality were not exactly showcased very strongly on the commercial end of the soul/R&B spectrum of the mid/late 90’s in which Joe began his career either. About a month ago,Joe released a new album entitled ‘Bridges’. Aside from the albums many very surprising delights? It concludes with what I feel to be it’s most surprising ones-a song called “Love Undefeated”.
Starting off with an authoritative drum kick similar in flavor to Funadelic’s iconic “(Not Just) Knee Deep) before kicking right into a think “funk functioning as disco-dance music” type percussive rhythm with a thick,pulsing three chord bass tone matched up with an electric piano/clavinet sounding interaction for the keyboard part. Shortly after a string synthesizer brings in the melody and these joyous,harmonic horn charts come in and stay with the song throughout it. Along with some extremely James Brown/Prince type rhythmic guitar as well. Lyrically Joe sings a message to his brothers and sisters in the world to start right here,right now with their love of themselves to save the children of their generation. To “free us from the prison of our minds” as he puts it. By the time the song comes to its coda Joe is singing call and response style with the horn section singing “love undefeated/we can’t lose it if we got love”.
While admittedly I haven’t listened to an entire Joe album until this point? I personally have never heard him make any music of this sort before. As I stated i my Amazon review of the album? I felt that Joe,with his sense of compassion and thoughtfulness,would be more than capable of making some strong soul and even funk one day-that is if his romantic outlook were more well rounded and less self involved. So now not only has he delivered just that,but on the funkiest possible end-full of musically powerful keyboard parts,bass/guitar interaction and even exciting horn charts as well. The mixture of P-Funk and other late 70’s/early 80’s boogie funk elements such as “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” is also added to by the fact this is music with a message too. Joe is making “people music” here-encouraging the current younger generations not to resort to apathy and to express unleashed love. If Joe was ever going to make strong funk music? I cannot think of a much better way than this.