Album Review: Huey Lewis and the News – Soulsville

By on Thursday, 14th October 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Back in the ’80s, you couldn’t escape from American good time rock ‘n’ rollers Huey Lewis and the News. The band’s ‘The Power of Love’, featuring in the now cult Michael J. Fox classic film ‘Back to the Future’ ensured that everyone of my generation would forever who they were; just in August, one of my schoolfriends got married and she and her new husband made their grand entrance with…what else? ‘The Power of Love.’

I actually saw the band at Wolf Trap, a outdoor amphitheatre in Northern Virginia, when they were touring in support of ‘Plan B’, their last album in 2001, and I thought they were fabulous. Though the line-up has changed over the years they still, collectively, had the same fire to deliver an amazing show.

In the intervening time since their last album, frontman Lewis appeared on Broadway as attorney Billy Flynn in the musical ‘Chicago’, making me wonder if he was bored with having fronted a band for so many years in the hit ‘wilderness’ and if the News were finished. Now in 2010 here we are, at Huey Lewis and the News’s ninth album, ‘Soulsville’. It’s an unabashed love letter tribute to Stax Records, well known in soul music folklore as the label who signed Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Sam and Dave, among others.

Although from the commercial standpoint Huey Lewis and the News are best known for their pop hits, it should be noted that Lewis himself supported himself in the early days as an amateur blues musician busking his way across Europe. Taking this into account, ‘Soulsville’ can be looked at as Lewis going back to his roots, as the band revisits Stax classics. Most successful are the more melodic tracks – ‘Don’t Fight It’ (sounding a bit Steve Winwood ‘Roll with It’ era), ‘Got to Get You Off My Mind’, ‘Just Another Day’. ‘Cry to Me’ and ‘Never Found a Girl’ recall the band’ s 1993 cover of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘It’s All Right’ – just lovely.

That said, if you’re someone who gets bored with tracks filled with saxophone trails and you aren’t a fan of Lewis’s voice, no amount of convincing is going to get you to buy this album. Even if you turned away from the News’s hits like the cheesy ‘Stuck with You’, you must admit to yourself that Lewis has incredible control of his voice as he puts it through a multitude of blues workouts, and the band still sounds great.

I think back to that blisteringly hot day in August when I saw the band at Wolf Trap. While there were no knickers grown women going absolutely mental for Lewis’s voice and the music of this band. Huey and the Lewis began in earnest in 1979. They’re now going into their third decade. How many bands that have just started up now do you think will be around in 2040? Not too many. Hats off to you, Huey Lewis and the News. Have a beer on me.

8/10

‘Soulsville’ by Huey Lewis and the News will be released next week, on 18 October, on Proper Records.

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One Response

4:31 pm
18th October 2010

Great to have them back!
Read my detailed review of ‘Soulsville’ here: http://realgonerocks.blogspot.com/2010/10/huey-lewis-and-news-soulsville.html

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