It's always exciting to be able to pick something created by a friend, and I'm especially tickled to recommend the latest musical venture of my friend Billy, a bouncy but all too brief album entitled Beat of Our Own Drum by JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. Billy and I have been friends since the 6th grade (which is why I can still refer to him as Billy, long after he's become known as Bill). Even though we haven't lived in the same city since those good old days, back when he was sporting a satin Batman baseball cap and taking me to my first concert (the Steve Miller Band), we've managed to stay in touch and always have a grand old time whenever we get a chance to meet up.
As a New Yorker, my conception of an “uptown sound” is the rustle of Brooks Brothers trousers against white thighs and the click clack of old lady heels, but in Chicago “the uptown sound” seems to be upbeat, clear sounding, good natured, and lots of fun. Fronted by the charming voiced and handsome Brooks, the band works comfortably in the traditions of Motown while maintaining an off beat sense of humor.
One of my favorite songs, which lends its name to the title of the album, captures the celebratory experience of falling in love with the adorable lyric, “You make me hotter than an apple pie”. Another song claims, “Baltimore is the new Brooklyn/ Just a short train ride from where you really want to be”.
That song, by the way, has a wonderful music video where I've delighted in seeing my good friend (he's playing the guitar). It reminds me of a time he once told me about a gig that wasn't going too well. He equated the experience with Back to the Future, when Marty McFly's hand begins to fade but then suddenly it comes back and he finished with a bang, all the crowd on his side. Well, it looks like the crowds will be on Bill's side with this new project.
But I digress with friendship nostalgia. Other favorites on the album include Alright, which channels the funk of James Brown, and the provocatively titled 75 Years of Art Sex that, at least in my opinion, is begging for a disco-fied version; it already gives me visions of a Bianca Jagger/Soul Train smash.
You can experience the band live! at Southpaw next Thursday (4/16) evening. I'll be there!