Various Artists - Bad Education Vol. 1: Soul Hits of Timmion Records - New LP
Side 1 one gets cracking with "This is What Love Looks Like", a mid-tempo, breezy dancer by NYC's own Carlton Jumel Smith whose recent album, 1634 Lexington Ave, is poised to be one of the top Soul releases of 2019. Johnny Benavidez, the Texas-born, California-raised balladeer showcases his heartfelt falsetto with "Tell Me That You Love Me" - a beat ballad of the highest order, and a must for fans of Texas giants The Commands. Pratt & Moody, a vocal duo who have been making waves for sometime in their native Finland, serve up another heart-wrenching, head-bobbing ballad with "Lost, Lost, Lost". Picking up the tempo we have the undisputed queen of Finnish Soul, Miss Nicole Willis! The New York native is already a household name on the UK Northern Soul scene, but now it's time for this expat to make some noise Stateside. Closing out the side we have the leather-clad-fringed flute phenom know as Ernie "Scorpio Man' Hawks. The Scorpio Walk's deep groove laced with murmuring fuzz bass and surf guitar rushes the listener like a maniacal villain in an art house spy movie.
Side 2 two packs even more soulful punches, starting with the unreleased track "Until Your Mine" by Wanda Felicia. Equal parts slick, Big City street harmony and raw, southern soul, the track evokes the very best of Fame era Candi Staton. Next up we have Bobby Oroza whose featured track "This Love" took the Soul scene by storm upon its release in 2016. His understated, earnest vocal let's the sparse arrangement and heavy beat take you to a place where the sun shines bright and the low-riders shine brighter where the Sunday afternoon sun dances off the gold flecks of custom low-rider paint jobs. "Bad Education" the funky, afro-latin soul monster with a message (whose title graces the cover of this album) tips the hat to legends like Joe Bataan and Ray Barreto. The debut single by Bardo Martinez, already known for his work with Chicano Batman, lays down a fiery indictment of the educational system defining it as a mouthpiece for the military industrial complex. A heavy tune with a heavier message! Finnish born Emilia Sisco offers up another debut with "Don't Believe You Like That", another gorgeous beat ballad backed by Cold Diamond and Mink that is sure to appeal to the darkest end of the dance floor. There's a special lane in the history for Soul of Soul for music this understated. Rounding out the side we have a man who needs ZERO introduction for those in the know. Louisiana born and raised Willie West has been making side after classic side since 1959. Whether it's his early raw R&B, deep brooding ballads, or his black belt Funk anthem "Fairchild" all of his records are essential - "I'm still a Man (Lord Have Mercy)" is no exception. From top to bottom "Bad Education” Bad Education, Vol. I is a feast for discerning funk and soul freaks alike!
Daptone Records takes its longstanding kinship with Finland's Timmion label to the next level with Bad Education, Vol. 1. Daptone distributes the label stateside and assists in extending its creative reach. In turn, the folks at Timmion provide advocacy and support for the New York label's artists when they tour Europe.
This ten-song set was curated and compiled by the American label's staff. A host of American artists are in the mix, beginning with Carlton Jumel Smith, whose "This Is What Love looks Like" is also the opening track from his killer debut album, 1634 Lexington Avenue. Backed by Timmion's virtuoso house band Cold Diamond & Mink, it's a mad, deep, uptown soul jam. It's followed by Texas-born, California-raised balladeer Jonny Benavidez's emotionally charged episode in falsetto glory, "Tell Me That You Love Me." It is so powerfully soulful it doesn't matter that Benavidez slips slightly off-key a couple of times. Its rawness emerges from a commitment to spontaneity and focus; it's a defining performance for both artist and label. Three tracks feature backing from the Soul Investigators. When Timmion set up shop with its own studio in 2009, these aces served as its house band and still exist, albeit in an evolved form. "Paint Me in a Corner" by ex-pat American singer Nicole Willis appeared on their 2015 full-length collaboration Happiness in Every Style. Trombonist/flutist Ernie Hawkins teams with the Soul Investigators on "Scorpio Walk," a panoramic slice of funky, psychedelic, break-laden soul-jazz that evokes the early-'70s Blaxploitation soundtrack scene. It feels like Isaac Hayes' Shaft score welded to J.J. Johnson's for Across 110th Street, played by a combo of the Bar-Kays and the Funk Brothers. The sultry, gospel-tinged soul on Wanda Felicia's stirring "Until You're Mine" stands apart from her abundant work in house music and nu-jazz; it features a killer horn chart from Cold Diamond & Mink. The tight snare and kick drum breaks that introduce Bolivian singer Bobby Oroza's "This Love, Pt. 1 -- originally issued by Timmion's Stylart imprint -- slowly, sensually glide into luscious uptown soul as guitars and a Hammond B-3 hover above the beat to frame his haunting vocal. Bardo Martinez (lead singer of Chicano Batman) and the Soul Investigators deliver a dose of heady, finger-popping Afro-Latin soul on "Bad Education," another set standout. Helsinki native Emilia Sisco has been wowing audiences for close to a decade on Finland's jazz and blues scenes. Here, her debut single, "Don’t Believe You Like That," registers the same emotional heft and soulful depth as Esther Phillips' Kudu dates from the mid-'70s; Sisco delivers lyrics with elasticity and authority atop Cold Diamond & Mink. They coax her elegantly wrought vocal to the fore and set it free. For previously uninitiated soul music fans, Bad Education, Vol. 1 is a fantastic introduction to the depth and breadth of the Timmion sound. Even collectors, who more than likely already own these singles individually, will enjoy this 34-minute comp as a gem-laden, sometimes sublime, playlist.