Retro Songs Collection, Vol 1 – Retro Band (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Retro Band does pretty much what the name might imply. They revisit, re-imagine and re-work songs from the past so that they get another day in the sun. Although they have covered many eras of the 20th century, this volume gathers together songs from the ’30s to the ’60s and gives them a new lease of life.

That might seem like a broad period, one which is the home to all manner of styles and sounds, but here they favour smoother and more seductive selections, and to this end, the album takes in jazz standards and iconic soul, the music of cocktail lounge divas and blues stalwarts.

And musically the songs are delivered with the right amount of authenticity and inventiveness, a nod to their past but also a chance to give them a new musical vehicle to travel in. Fly Me To The Moon is a seductive and soothing slice of sixties supper club style and What A Wonderful World retains its beautiful understatement. But then there are songs such as Summertime which slow-burns its way into a thing of jazz-fuelled sonic drama.

The Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want is turned into a deft and delicate piece and, perhaps leaving the best till last, Aint No Sunshine When She’s Gone picks up some funky grooves and cocoons its self in sultry sax and emotive organ washes to wonderful effect.

It’s a great album, one that resurrects half-forgotten songs and re-imagines iconic numbers. It also reminds us that songs never really find a final finished form and become more powerful and culturally more deeply rooted through their ability to be reinterpreted and reimagined over the years. The best songs do at least. And this is an album of such songs and Retro Band’s musicians prove to be the perfect people to add one more chapter to such song’s sonic stories.

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