Review

Martha High & Speedometer

Soul Overdue

Freestyle Records • 2012

When speaking of Martha High, one should think in the direction of James Brown. After less than a single bar, I’m riveted, especially since Speedometer can pretty much be trusted blindly. Why Brown? Because Martha High was his tour-support and background-singer for thirty years. The producer Brown even custom-tailored a record for her in 1979. Since then, Martha High has been touring the world, while living in Paris at the moment. Her life-experiences are well noticeable and so she adds little worldly wisdom here and there: »Only three things are certain in life, taxes, debts and trouble«. Those kind of statements remind the listener of »the good ol’ times«, when funk didn’t just sound funky, but also transported critical messages. When looking for similar styles, spontaneously, i can only think of Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields or Spanky Wilson. But first and foremost, »Soul Overdue« is about love, while the music really carries me away with such strength that i could easily listen to ten more records about the very same topic. Speedometer plays with such a cartload full of funk and soul that they couldn’t possibly sound bad. The record is full of typical funk instruments in addition to a few extras, making the whole thing diverse and interesting. And Martha High uses her vocals to carry it all to the next level. Every time you think: “Alright, nice enough, next track!”, there is a solo and you have to listen to the whole song. Even the seemingly unnecessary (because it has been done a thousand times) »Sunny«-cover is absolutely valid and has its right to exist. The only unnecessary track for me is High’s version of »Mama Feelgood«, because it comes up with nothing new and therefore doesn’t really reach Lyn Collin’s version. I really hadn’t expected much, especially since all the recent »Retro-Funk«-records pretty much sounded alike and all missed a special something. This record has that certain indefinable something and goes straight into my regular rotation.