Ron Littlejohn & The Funk Embassy - Shining On

It' whispered Ron Littlejohn has a hip hop past, but you'd probably never guess it from the music found on Shining On, a wonderful old school soul album.

With the popularity of vintage soul singing, from the likes of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, it makes sense for Littlejohn to record an album that reminds you that 70s soul was, indeed, some mighty fine glory days, indeed. Just dig the way Hammond organ introduces "Light Me Up," a hard funk groove in the great tradition of James Brown. The song uses the pot smoking metaphor for love, and features a male and female vocal spar.

People are so fond of saying they're 'keeping it real' these days, but few people keep it real the way Littlejohn does with this album's instrumentation. In addition to its Soul Train-ready vocals, there is also plenty of brass, electric piano, flute and other groove-a-licious stuff.

The singing is fantastic throughout, too. Listen to the falsetto during parts of "Soul Devotion," and tell me if this doesn't remind you of so many wonderful Curtis Mayfield vocals from yesteryear. If you've ever seen a Blaxploitation movie in the 70s, you've heard music much like this track. However, you probably didn't hear too much that was better than this doggone good track.

It's never a good thing to live in the past. Even so, when music of the past and let's be honest here is sometimes so much better than the junk of the present, what's the harm in reviving styles that just help you get your groove on? Let's hope Shining On also gets a chance to shine on the mainstream, because it's the best of the good stuff.

Ron Littlejohn & The Funk Embassy - Shining On

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