Enter Billy Valentine as a voice of conscience in an era of disinformation and false denial amid the alarming advance of the far right across the western world.
The rear view mirror is as important as any ancient history book because the view isn't that long gone. And The Universal Truth is not just an album rooted in the 1970s. But go back 50 years earlier almost to the beginnings of recorded music for the Sunset 4 Jubilee Singers 1925 treatment of the spiritual ‘Wade In The Water’ delivered in a segregrated America when Jim Crow laws were a stain on humanity.
Billy Valentine - in The Valentine Brothers with his brother John known before Simply Red for their song 'Money's Too Tight (To Mention)' - delves into songs associated with Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott-Heron and Pharaoh Sanders on this sublime studio album. Here Valentine's voice is like a cross between Bobby Womack and Jimmy Scott.
There is meaningfulness galore on Gil Scott-Heron 1971 classic 'Home Is Where The Hatred Is' with drum deity James Gadson ('Express Yourself,' 'Lean on Me' - The Nightfly) and Welsh bass don Pino Palladino featuring incredible Rhodes electric piano from Larry Goldings and the head bobbing touch of guitarist Jeff Parker also within the strings soaked brew.
John Coltrane producer Bob Thiele's son Bob Jr is at the helm of the reborn Flying Dutchman who issue the label teaming up with Eddie Piller's Acid Jazz in the UK to get the record out and that is one part of a planets alignment and wake up call.
Thiele Sr produced Pieces of a Man the Flying Dutchman slice of classic social consciousness on which 'Home is Where The Hatred Is' one of the Valentine covers here appeared.
Curtis Mayfield's 'We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue,' with Immanuel Wilkins superb all over it, Eddie Kendricks’ 'My People… Hold On,' Stevie Wonder’s 'You Haven’t Done Nothin’,' Pharaoh Sanders/Leon Thomas’ 'The Creator Has A Master Plan', late-1980s Prince song 'Sign Of The Times' the most recent of the numbers, 'Wade' mentioned above and one of the best things of all with the Parker & Pino and break-out Parker solo a perfection, and the Papa Dee Allen, Harold Brown, B.B. Dickerson et al War classic - 'The World Is A Ghetto.' If you listen to no other record this month you will be suitably quenched, inspired and re-educated in vital matters that too many in positions of authority and power would want erased. An instant classic. Above all - what an incredible voice one you may also know heard on the main theme of the 2004-2008 television series, Boston Legal. Billy Valentine, photo: press