KISS frontman Paul Stanley steps away from his day job with this his long awaited soul/Motown project.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: Paul Stanley’s Soul Station
ALBUM: Now and Then
LABEL: Universal Music Group
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP:Paul Stanley – lead vocals * Alex Alessandroni – musical director, keyboards * Eric Singer – drums, backing vocals * Sean Hurley – bass * Rafael Moreira – guitars, backing vocals * Ray Ysais – percussion * Ely Rise – keyboards * Jon Papenbrook – lead trumpet * Crystal Starr – vocals * Laurhan Beato – vocals * Gavyn Rhone – vocals
Additional Musicians: Mike Nelson, Ben Burget, Ed Wynne – saxophone * Nathalie Leggett, Songa Lee, Kathleen Sloan – violin * Giovanni Clayton – cello
TRACK LISTING: 01Could It Be I’m Falling In Love * 02 I Do * 03 I, Oh, I * 04 Ooo Baby Baby * 05 O-O-O Child * 06 Save Me (From You) * 07 Just My Imagination (Running Away with You) * 08 Whenever You’re Ready (I’m Here) * 09 The Tracks Of My Tears * 10 Let’s Stay Together * 11 La La-Means I Love You * 12 Lorelei * 13 You Are Everything * 14 Baby I Need Your Loving
Paul Stanley, well there really isn’t much that we don’t know about the legendary KISS front man, who’s been a huge part of the music scene since 1974.
His ‘Soul Station’ project is a step into different territory for him, as apparently he’s long nurtured a love of soul/Motown music and feels that now is the time to show his admiration of the genre by releasing an album of soul’ standards’ and original material that’s better suited to the soul music market rather than the stack heeled, stadium rock of KISS.
14 tracks with 5 of them being Paul Stanley originals. The rest are songs that most, if not all of us here at GDM will be familiar with, as they’ve been mainstream radio staples since the 60’s and 70’s when they first appeared.
If I can deal with the original material first, ‘I Do’ is a relatively ‘on point’ soul track with all the familiar tropes thrown in, you know the sweet female backing vocals, the obligatory strings, the same goes for ‘I, Oh I’, which is saved by a decent enough sax break but the songs really go absolutely nowhere and they’re just not memorable enough, but also let’s get the issue of Paul Stanley’s vocals out of the way too.
He just doesn’t seem to have any ‘soul’ in his voice, and I’ll not beat about the bush either as in my opinion his vocal ability is pretty much shot now, and hearing him trying to sing falsetto these days is a bloody hard listen, also that his vocals are relatively low in the mix is quite telling as well.
The other 3 originals bear all the aforementioned soul trademarks, and the standout of these is ‘Whenever You’re Ready (I’m Here)’, and that’s mainly down to the female lead of Crystal Starr that elevates the song above the (very) ordinary.
As for the cover versions, I found myself cringing at Stanley’s vocals on ‘The Tracks Of My Tears’, and his crooning on ‘You Are Everything’ is frankly embarrassing, as for the rest, well for me it was a case of grin and bear it I’m afraid. They are just workmanlike vocal performances, nothing more nothing less, and without the spark and vitality that the originals had.
All that being said, the project is saved somewhat by the arrangements of the songs, and credit must go to the musical director Alex Alessandroni, who, in the main has stayed more or less faithful to the originals, which has to be admired and also a shout out to the female vocalists that actually kept my interest as without them I think I’d have switched off.
Paul Stanley won’t be bothered one jot whether I like this album or not. This is his vanity project plain and simple. It’s actually pained me to write this as he is one of my musical idols, a big part of the soundtrack to my life for 40+years and someone who has written some of rock music’s most iconic songs, and he was in his prime an untouchable frontman, but this album just does absolutely nothing for me I’m afraid.
The likes of Todd Rundgren with his soul medley on the ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ album and David Bowie‘s ‘Young Americans’ plastic soul are far better examples of rock stars leaving their comfort zones. I’ll pass on this thanks.
Could It Be I’m Falling In Love
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