“Funky and tight on all levels” -
Cut the cake, let’s take it to the stage, its 1975!
With those words and a tip of the hat to a couple of gems from another time James Fox Higgins proudly declares his intentions for the brand new album ’1975′.
Equal parts soul, jazz, retro pop and West Coast smooth with a dash of Miami disco, ‘1975’ is the culmination of one man’s love affair with the music of a bygone era. Written, produced and arranged by Higgins, the album is sure to find admirers amongst people whose playlist is loaded with the sounds of Allen Stone, Mayer Hawthorne, Steely Dan, Dennis Coffey or Hall & Oates.
Setting the scene for the album with its sultry piano chords and swooning soprano sax, the opening track gently lulls the listener ‘Back In Time’ to “a time of music, a time of soul, a pre-digital world, a world of hope” and invites them to join Higgins on his retro pilgrimage. The album shines a light brightly on Higgins’ musical luminaries. There’s the Rotary Connection inspired ‘Sun & Sea’, an ode to the natural love affair between the sun and the life giving ocean; the socially aware and relevant ‘Stand Up’, a call to arms to fight against institutionalised homophobia and racism; the breezy ‘Life In The Love Zone’, influenced by harmony driven folksters like Seals & Crofts or Crosby, Stills & Nash and ‘Soul Train’, a disco flavoured tribute to the legendary Don Cornelius-hosted TV Show that launched countless artists into the mainstream. Track after track Higgins proves he’s a modern performer with that rare ability to straddle strong lyrical themes with infectious upbeat melodies and grooves, a trick he learnt from childhood heroes such as The Style Council and Simply Red.
‘Brother There’s Still Time’ is the gospel-tinged ballad that tells a more personal story about the artist’s own experience of racism and discrimination in the world. Higgins’ vocals, instrumentation and production will evoke memories of early-70s Stevie Wonder and the song is the perfect balance to the reworking of Sam Cooke’s classic ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, the quintessential lamentation of racism and social disharmony. With the greatest respect and one of his most emotional vocal performances, Higgins delivers his own quiet storm arrangement of this very important song in soul music’s history.
The first single from the album ’1975 (Wish I Was There)’ is an upbeat soul-funk dissertation on the key musical events of that year. From Wonder’s participation in the Festival of Human Kindness, the release of The Who’s ‘Tommy’, Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ and Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’, the birth of Sean Lennon and the untimely demise of Tim Buckley and Al Jackson. And of course what would a song about 1975 be without name checks for Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees, Curtis Mayfield, The Stones and co. With a respectful tip of the hat to Dorothy Moore’s ‘Looking For A Lovin’’, this joyous foot-stomper comes complete with an era-correct George Benson-inspired guitar solo by the legendary Rex Goh and is destined to take you back in time whether you were there or not.
Throughout ‘1975’ Higgins shows he possesses a deep-seated reverence for the pioneers of 70s music.”I grew up in the 90’s and all along I felt like I was born at the wrong time.” he explains, “That year is the epitome of soul music to me. Music production was at new heights, there was funk, disco, soul, R&B and jazz rock coming from all parts of the world. Social consciousness was fashionable and present in the lyrics of pop songs. Times are very different now.”