‘The Soul Sessions’ From Speedometer Feels So Good

The Soul Sessions is an album I’ve been looking forward to most of the year after reviewing The Funk Sessions back in April. Like its predecessor, it was recorded live by Speedometer at the legendary Studio 3 in Abbey Roads Studios in London. Universal Music commissioned both albums for their Abbey Road Masters label and released them on all digital platforms.

This iteration pays homage to Motown and you can hear it instantly and all the way through. It’s authentic, from the soulful riffs of horns, the tasty licks of guitar, the thumping rhythm section, and the handclaps and backing vocals, right up to the spectacular vocals from Angelo Starr (younger brother to Edwin Starr) and Shezar. 

The album drives a stake through the heart of the saying “they don’t make music like that anymore” because this all original album has all the elements you could want. I’m gonna have this one on repeat for a while. Check out my track by track rundown and enjoy!

Track By Track

100 Percent is classic soul through and through, immediately feeling familiar while being brand new. The guitar opening hits me as homage to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” After that, the Speedometer horns pump in with that baritone bottom I love.  The vocals from Angelo Starr are amazing. The background vocals are authentic and the lyrics are crystal clear and will have you singing along in no time.  The tune is about a boy courting a girl “ready to move, 100 percent.” The instrumental bridge is classic. I’m all in on this album from the start.

All We Strive For starts silky smooth with some guitar-bass-drums and the silky smooth vocals from Shezar. Like so many soul songs, it’s about love and it being all we strive for. The second bit of the song introduces the horn chorus and ends with a chill piano roll out.

Make Me Feel Fine has a guitar intro and then Shezar sings terrific lead vocals. The horns hit hard with some great bari scoops from George Phillips. Man, it’s just incredible how authentic Speedometer sounds, true to that Motown sound.

Don’t Tell Me brings back Angelo on lead. The bass line hits me as a callback to one of the most famous of all, My Girl from The Temptations.  Angelo’s voice definitely fits in the mold of the Motown greats – think Marvin Gaye, Eddie Kendricks or David Ruffin, depending on the song and the mood.

Step It Up strikes me hits me in the solar plexus like ABC from the Jackson 5  except it’s a straight up instrumental. Can you hear it? It’s got some great flute lead from George Phillips. Perhaps this song is the tip of the hat to “The Funk Brothers,” the unheralded but exceptional backing band on many of the Motown hits.

Crossroads hits with a clapping and horn head, joined by Shezar straight up groovin vocals. This one would fit right in among the Supremes or Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. It’s worth mentioning here that the production values on the album are great — the mix is crystal clear and has that straight to tape analog feel.

Take Me As I Am is a slower ballad sung by Shezar again, singly thankfully about acceptance. It builds the story with the horns accenting the simple message.

Like You & Me is the only song featuring Angelo and Shezar, and it’s a great pairing a la Marvin and Tammi. The ‘shoop” and ‘a ha’ backing vocals fit like a glove and it’s a feel good story all the way.

No Man Worries is a power vehicle for Shezar again. It’s also a tune for the band itself the horns are incredible and the rhythm is spot on. There’s a brief horn- and guitar-led bridge before the main theme comes back and closes it out.

Comin’ Home has an extended opening setting the tone with the band showing its stuff, especially the massive horn sound and Leigh counterpunching on guitar. It’s just the second instrumental tune on the album and it’s a winner right up to the horn knockout ending.

Speedometer Are

  • Leigh Gracie – guitars
  • Rich Hindes – bass
  • Karl Penney – drums
  • Matt Hodges – organ & piano
  • Dave Land – trumpet
  • Simon Jarrett – tenor sax 
  • George Philips, baritone sax, flute
  • Matt Wilding – percussion
  • Featuring Angelo Starr & Shezar on vocals