In football (and possibly other sports, we haven’t checked), you get a testimonial after you serve ten years with a club. Recognition, charity fundraising and financial recognition for staying the course and committing yourself to one club for what is likely to be the majority of your career. Oddly, there isn’t an equivalent for bands and perhaps there should be. For a band to last ten years in today’s climate is unusual – to go beyond that is increasingly rare, with best ofs and career appraisals often appearing even after just a couple of albums. What of those bands who REALLY last? How do they do it and is there a secret?
Metal bands seem to have the secret, they stick together through times of famine and have a real connection to their fans, whether it’s Iron Maiden or a small band in a provincial town, their own tastes in music never alter and neither do the people who listen to them. They’ve found their niche and they don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Other genres are less common – dance, pop, they are almost phantom acts, appearing and disappearing without notice. Soul acts are another matter. Longevity is more common but to keep the original members. No chance. Look at The Drifters – still together but with different incarnations treading the boards at any given time and sometimes not an original member in sight. Maybe you yourself are in The Drifters, it feels like most people are or have been when you try and work out their lineage.
Where am I going with this? Well, Raw Soul Express is where I’m going. Formed in the year Man landed on the moon, they retain their original members. Even newcomers like their bassist joined in 1971. Yes, they had some downtime where they all went off to do their own thing (a key to success like any relationship is to give each other space) but surely the real secret is that they are a real band. They are not a band who ever relied on studio trickery and they are truly skilled musicians. Their existing fans exist alongside eager collectors keen to find original copies of their 70’s releases and and now, of course, new fans who are relieved to find that a soul band don’t have to be the work of a single vocalist and a producer. Talent will out!
Raw Soul Express have a new single coming out on 1st February, a typically lush, funky affair which fits perfectly alongside their earlier work. Entitled Fate of the World, it’s not mawkish or preachy, just the sound of a band inquisitive about the world and creating timeless music. More of it please!