Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972)
- J. Steven Soles -- vocals
supporting musicians (not listed)
- Ned Albright -- vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion
- Tali Jackson -- drums, percussion
- David Kapell -- bass, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals
- The Alpha Band (Steven Soles)
- The Children of Paradise (Steven Soles)
- Live Wires (Ned Albright)
- Steven Soles (solo efforts)
- Tidbits (Steven Soles)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Steve Soles and Friends
Company: Tiger Lily
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: SOLD
Price: SOLD $400
Singer/guitarist J. Steve Soles had been a member of Jeff Barry's stable of mid-'70s songwriters working with a broad array of acts ranging from The Archies to Dusty Springfield. He and keyboard player Ned Albright had placed a pair of songs on The Monkees' final studio album - 1970's "Changes".
In the early '70s the two were members of the New York based band Tidbits which attracted the attention of Artie Ripp. Ripp signed them to his short-lived Family Records. Released in 1972, "Greetings from Jamaica" found Soles and Albright fronting a true band showcasing the talents of drummer Tali Jackson, and bass player David Kapell. Self-produced, the album was interesting if for no other reason than Soles and company were groundbreakers, being one of the first American bands I know of to record an album in Jamaica (Kingston's Dynamic Sound Studios). The funny thing is even though the recorded the album with Carlton Lee engineering and help from various local musicians, with the exceptions of 'My Friend Maude' and 'Jamaican Sunset' reggae influences were far and few between. So if there wasn't much reggae, what was on this one? Well, the answer was a relative straightforward and quite impressive collection of English inspired pop and rock material. Largely penned by Soles and Albright (Soles then-wife/actress P.J. Soles co-wrote two tracks), selections such as 'Carol' and 'It's a Come On' were full of Badfinger, Emitt Rhodes, and Paul McCartney influences. I'm simply a pushover for this kind of stuff. An unknown album that isn't perfect, but I still managed to enjoy every time I play it and you can still find affordable copies ...
And here's where it got weird. In 1976 Maurice Levy's infamous Tiger Lily Records reissued the album as a Soles product - "Steve Soles and Friends". The cover art was different, but the album featured the same eleven songs in the same track order and the 1972 Tidbits LP.
from Jamaica" track listing:
1.) Be My Good Day (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) - rating: *** stars
'Be My Good Day' opened the album with a New Orleans-flavored pop number. With a good-timey, upbeat shuffle feel and some surprisingly subtle horn charts, this one was surprisingly enjoyable. It actually sounded like something Paul McCartney would have written for "Venus and Mars".
2.) All Alone In New York City (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) - rating: **** stars
Kicked along by some barrelhouse piano, 'All Alone In New York City' has always reminded me of Emmitt Rhodes. A wonderful slice of Beatlesque pop, this one had immense top-40 potential.
3.) Carol (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright - M. Soles) - rating: *** stars
Sporting a gorgeous melody, 'Carol' was a highly commercial ballad. I've listed to the song dozens of times and every time I hear it Soles nasal voice reminds me of another song - problem is I've never been able to pen it down. One of these days ...
4.) It's a Come On (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) - rating: **** stars
Every time I hear 'It's a Come On' I m reminded of Paul McCartney and Wings 'Sally G'. Like that song, this one shares the same eclectic mix of hard edged pop and country influences. Simply irresistible to my ears.
5.) 2000 Horsemen (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) - rating: **** stars
Side's one's toughest rocker, '2000 Horsemen' still managed to retained a pop-edge, as well as one of the album's best guitar solos. Hard to believe this one wasn't a hit.
Reggae intended for middle class consumers ... 'My Friend Maude' was about as imaginative as the album's cover art. Hard to believe but this one managed to make the late Johnny Nash sound like a rude Boy.
2.) Good Love Is Hard To Find (Ned Albright) - rating: ** stars
Penned by Albright, 'Good Love Is Hard To Find' sported a good time country feel. Catchy, but it didn't strike a chord with me. That didn't stop Family from tapping it as a single:
- 1973's 'Good Love Is Hard To Find' b/w '???' (Family catalog number FP 9022)
3.) Don't Blame Me (J. Steven Soles - P.J. Soles) - rating: **** stars
Continuing to bounce across genres, 'Don't Blame Me' sported a catchy country-rock melody that climbed in your head and wouldn't leave. Kicked along by nice acoustic guitars and some pretty harmony vocals, a band like Firefall would have been thrilled to have recorded this one.
4.) Almighty (Ned Albright) - rating: *** stars
Almighty' found the band taking a stab at a surprisingly impressive Gospel flavored number. Delaney and Bonnie would have been impressed ...
5.) Touch (J. Steven Soles - David Kapell) - rating: ** stars
The album's first true disappointment, 'Touch' was a plodding and over emoting ballad that sounded like something a solo Eric Carmen might have recorded. Forgettable.
6.) Jamaican Sunset (J. Steven Soles - P.J. Soles) - rating: ** stars
As much as I'd love to say something about the closer, 'Jamaican Sunset' was as lame as the title would imply. Hard to believe, but Johnny Nash's early-1970s reggae work sounded positively inspired compared to this lame waste of time.
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