It was back in 2009 that I first became familiar with the name ‘Cool Million’, after hearing Everyday (Cool Million Retr-o-matic Mix) – track number three on Joey Negro and the Sunburst Band: The Remixes album, which I wrote a review of that same year. *1
After this initial sublime introduction, the Cool Million chaps (Frank Ryle & Rob Hardt) have been steadfastly feeding my aural appetite with sumptuous dish upon dish, the menu of which I look a little further into now.
In 2010… Hang on, now here comes yet another perfect example of what is a long-standing fact that many of our very best singers go forth unknown to the masses, whilst we are repeatedly fed the same fodder of big labels and their artists. Noel McKoy. In my opinion, Noel McKoy should be a household name. Just feel it now…
First up, in his James Brown Quartet days…
Then bringing us some 21st Century Northern Soul…
My recommendation – go and purchase the album Brighter Day (2009), that is a good place to start. As the man himself says: “For those who know Soul is what you feel not what you hear.”
Anyway, here he is on the delectable Just Dance.
Most worthy of a mention next would be the 2011 release of Love Is Comin’ Up (Cool Million’s Mix) by Tom Glide & Luv All Stars, and for two reasons. Firstly, because I love the track itself, and secondly because it subsequently lead on to a connection and friendship with maestro Tom Glide himself, which has also seen me write two press releases for other tracks of his (Sweet Heaven with Timmy Thomas and Party People with Joe Leavy).*2 And I must just make a shout-out to his compatriot and our fellow friend Markus Kater here also, as he is one man I can be assured will read this. 🙂
With a touch of synchronicity, amongst the various remixes this track received it was given the masterful Neil Thompson touch, whose (my personal all-time favourite) fusion This Is The Finest was my inaugural posting upon my facebook music page ‘The G Spot’ (which, if you like this blog is a must-join in my book). *3
2011 also saw them put their touch to Mama Used To Say (Cool Million Boogie Down Mix). If anyone knows me they know I have long adored our great Beverley Knight, and the original version of this track by Junior has always been a gem of special meaning to me.
Along with the many remixes, three original albums stand in their arsenal thus far: Going Out Tonight (2008), Back For More (2010) and III (2012); alongside this is The Tom Moulton Session (2010), a man whose legendary stature is unquestioned. A unifying feature across all these works is the sublime chanteuse that is Laura Jackson, who puts her honey-pure power into full flow; one of my favourites It’s Your Life (from III) is played in my little castle almost daily as a mantra.
Another treasure from that album that was also released as a single is Cool To Make A Million, featuring Leroy Burgess, a man with a musical pedigree of considerable measure, having established his career back in the early 1970s with the prolific and influential dance/club music icon that is producer Patrick Adams. This first took off with him being the founding lead vocalist with the trio Black Ivory, with tracks such as Mainline (their biggest hit, and one they actually reunited for in 1979, as he had left the group back in 1977 to forge a solo career).
In 1977… “He [Patrick Adams] also had a project called Phreek on Atlantic Records. He had basically finished the project, but he had a few slots for a couple of songs. I had this song called ‘Weekend’, and he wanted to cut it [for Phreek]. Atlantic heard it and said, “This is the single!” As it turned out, it was the only single off that album.” *4
Undoubtedly one of his greatest successes, much-loved by Larry Levan, is the Salsoul Records album Logg, with Paradise Garage gems such as You’ve Got That Something…
He also wrote/arranged the 1982 Fonda Rae club smash Over Like A Fat Rat.
…as well as popping up on tracks such as Release Yourself – Aleem – in 1984.
And so onwards from that little segue, here is the absolutely stellar (in my opinion) Cool To Make A Million.
Fair to say then that it is well established their albums are bursting with a roll-call of the finest singers around, including, as featured on III, Natasha Watts (whose debut album was produced by the Cool Million chaps, and in fact spotlighted on this very blog in February) putting her talents onto Show Me. *5
Another from that album is Kenny Thomas, whose breakthrough came in 1991 with his debut hit Outstanding (a cover of the 1982 release from the Gap Band).
Here then is Kenny Thomas journeying on the star-ship Cool Million on Without Your Love…
The ethos of Cool Million is “TAKING SOUL BACK TO THE FUTURE” – and that is something they are doing in substantial measure. There is something comfortably classic with genuine groove, music with soul and an intensely uplifting tilt, making their own indelible mark upon today’s music; as Ralph Waldo Emerson once put it “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – and it is a blazing fire trail of glory that shows only the sign of growing ever brighter.
What follows are some further readings/tunes to supplement what you’ve just digested, if you so wish. Please do leave a comment in the box at the very bottom (below these) before you go; it is good to share. 🙂
*1 To read my original 2009 review.
Sweet Heaven with Timmy Thomas
Party People with Joe Leavy
Luv Is Coming Up (Neil Thompson’s ReGrooved Mix) – Tom Glide
This Is The Finest (Exclusive Caister Mix) Mario Biondi & SOS Band – Neil Tomo
*4 Great interview with Leroy Burgess
*5 My feature on Natasha Watts.