My youth was filled with Motown and soul. I remember staying up late in the summer sitting at the kitchen table playing cards with my mom, dad and brother. Most nights, Motown provided that soundtrack. Listening to Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and all of the amazing artists that came out of Studio A. In fact, one of the reasons I started playing saxophone was to learn the lick from Jr. Walker And The All Stars’ “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)”. One day I should probably do that, but I digress. The debut full-length record from Fitz & The Tantrums took me right back there.
Right out of the gate in “Breakin’ The Chains Of Love”, you can hear the heavy soul influence. The lack of a lead guitar is not missed, as Ruzumna drives the melody flawlessly on keyboards. Fitzpatrick defines the sound with spot on vocals and lyrics, while Scaggs adds to it with smooth backup vocals. When you think it can’t get better, King tops it off with precise funky licks on saxophone. But the clincher is the steady, groovy beats of Wicks on drums that immediately makes you think of The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” intro.
On tracks like “Mr. President” and “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”, there is a certain “lo-fi” quality that makes this record feel older than it is. In fact, one could sneak those tracks into the rotation of an oldies/soul radio station and people wouldn’t notice. On the flip side of the coin, tracks like “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” and “Winds Of Change” feel more modern without breaking the integrity of the record. The only “complaint” I have is where Fitzpatrick goes into the french bit on “News 4 U”. For me, it broke character for the album — if only for 25 seconds.
Fitz & The Tantrums’ first offering left me clamoring for more. They have an EP as well with a few tracks not on the full-length album. Both the LP and EP are available on the band’s website to listen to for free. My Recommendation: this is a must have record.
1. Breakin’ The Chains Of Love
2. Dear Mr. President
3. Pickin’ Up The Pieces
6. News 4 U
7. Don’t Gotta Work It Out
8. Rich Girls
9. Winds of Change