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Maze: Silky Soul

Album Notes

In 1989, many of the soul and funk bands that emerged in the '70s had either broken up or disappeared from the charts. But Maze featuring Frankie Beverly was not only hanging in there -- it was still selling a lot of albums. Released in 1989, Silky Soul was yet another big seller for Maze; it was also the band's first Warner Bros. release (after more than a decade at Capitol). On Silky Soul, Beverly favors a more high-tech production style than he had in the past. Maze's founder and lead singer knew that urban radio was very technology-minded, and he makes some urban contemporary moves by using more synthesizers and drum machines. Nonetheless, Silky Soul is state-of-the-art Maze. In fact, Silky Soul is an appropriate title for this CD because tracks like the funky "Love's on the Run" and the melancholy "Can't Get Over You" are essentially soul music -- the production style is more urban contemporary, but Beverly's singing and writing is still that of a soul man whose musical personality was shaped by the classic R&B of the '60s and '70s. Marvin Gaye is still a prominent influence, and Beverly pays tribute to the late soul singer on the hit title song. Silky Soul's title track is simply brilliant -- parts of the tune allude to Gaye's "What's Going On," but without obscuring Maze's own distinctive personality. Another great track is "Mandela," which calls for the release of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. In 1989, Mandela was still confined to a South African prison, but after the racist apartheid system was ended, he became South Africa's president. An excellent album, Silky Soul demonstrated that Maze could be relevant to 1989's urban contemporary scene without being unfaithful to its soul roots. ~ Alex Henderson


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