If you had remotely suggested 15 years ago when I first began penning reviews on this website that in the distant future one of my featured artists would be Paul Stanley, I would have told you you're crazy. Well that was then, and this is now. Or in the case of the legendary rocker, and his band Soul Station, it's NOW AND THEN. Yes, THAT Paul Stanley, who with his three legendary bandmates piled on thematic makeup, laced up platform boots and set stages ablaze across the globe, totalling more than 100 million in world sales.
Stanley and Soul Station have spent the last number of years developing and perfecting a musical project that you could say, pardon the pun, comes right from the soul. Now And Then is a collection of 14 songs, 9 RnB classics, and 5 originals you would swear were pounded out by the legendary songwriting teams of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Bell & Creed, or even Gamble & Huff. Don't think for a moment that Stanley awoke one day and had an epiphany moment and suddenly pined to record soul covers. In fact, longtime fans of the heavy metal icon might be surprised to learn his love of soul goes back long before the black star makeup over his right eye.
"Long before I ever heard of the great British bands, I grew up listening to Philly Soul, Motown and so much more. I was lucky to see Otis Redding and Solomon Burke, among others:" Stanley adds, 'That music and storytelling gave me strength and hope even in some tough days".
The transcendent sound and appeal of soul music bring beloved classics into a new era on this brilliant project. Soul Station's lineup of talent is fortified with three string players and two horn players, not to mention an exhilarating and mellifluous backup vocal ensemble. All of these intrinsically key elements provide for a stunning, energetic wall of sound beyond Stanley's wide ranging spectacular vocal range. Whether it's the Five Stairsteps' OOH Child ( a Wave Top 10 #1 hit), Smokey's Tracks Of My Tears and Ooo Baby, Baby, The Spinners' Could It Be I'm Falling In Love, or Four Tops' Baby I Need Your Loving, Stanley channels his passion for soul music and modernizes their sound while paying tribute and respect to their roots and history.
Listening to the original composition "I Do", I was instantly transported to a time when the sound of the Stylistics and Del Fonics were mainstays on my AM radio. And Stanley keeps the engine of the soul train chugging on another original, "I, Oh I", that offers another superbly rich soul redux that would make you believe it rolled off the assembly line at the Motor City's famous Hitsville USA factory.
NOW AND THEN is a masterpiece of vocal and instrumental arrangement, reflecting the commitment of one music legend to re-polish a timeless and influential sound.
Reviewed By Stu Berketo
Wave On-Air Host