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"Soul Express CD Review"

Soul Express CD Review

(US Thump, 2004)

The Corner (Intro) - Pass The Vibe - Earth, Wind & Fire - That's Funked Up (Segue) - The Real (Do Do) (feat. MICHAEL COOPER and BOOTSY COLLINS) - Whether U Know It (feat. JANE EUGENE) - Soul Shack - Do What Come Funky (feat. GEORGE CLINTON) - High (It's My State Of Mind) - Flower (feat. GEORGE DUKE and GERALD ALBRIGHT) - Days Like This - Alright (feat. PATRICE RUSHEN)

Another quality release on Thump. Val Watson, for those unfamiliar with the name, is the lead singer of Club Nouveau and very sexy she is to boot. This is not what I expected, but that is not always a bad thing. Vocally, and for the most part, Val adopts a nasal vocal style of the same ilk as Larry Blackmon. This took some getting used to. I originally found this to sound like a hybrid of Eartha Kitt with Phyllis Diller, but with laryngitis. In fact, in some places I am reminded of the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez from TLC. However, this manic vocal brew has warmed to me a great deal and the style suits the funkiness of the CD and I would say that if you are a fan of hard, 80s funk then you would love this CD. If not, then there are a few delicious ballads that should get the taste buds going.

The real gems start for me with a cover of "Earth, Wind & Fire" which is really smooth and not detrimental to the original classic one iota. In fact, it reminds me of the Woody Cunningham flavour from his "Universal Love" album. There are, as with Michael Cooper's set, some moments of pure fun funk and Michael Cooper and Bootsy Collins add vocal support to the SUPERB bass-trembling "The Real (Do Do)". My partner expressed much surprise to my even liking this kind of bass-heavy modern R&B funk style, but I do. I would LOVE to hear this pumped up in a Club with some proper wattage behind it. Michael adds his funky voice and Bootsy…well, is just the Bootsy we all know and love. A pure moment of bliss for my ears, especially when the Zapp-like vocoder crops up again.

Britain's very own Jane Eugene from Loose Ends pops up and adds her lovely vocals to the excellent summer vibe of "Whether U Know It" which is a personal favourite of mine, complete with the strings, violin solo and warm, warm Fender Rhodes. This is a head-nodding ballad where Val sings in her ordinary and, in my opinion, far superior voice. An excellent example too of sultry soul for 2004 - a future favourite in the making I think and possibly a tune that will be criminally overlooked by those who are not followers of the funk.

There is the rump-shaking funk of "Soul Shack" which on the outset apes the opening of the B-52s hit single from 1990. This is to savour, complete with funky EW&F type guitars and horns. Lovers of Steve Harvey's work with Impromp2 and The Temptations will adore this. The ESSENTIAL "Flower" features George Duke and Gerald Albright on flute and is just a phenomenal song and one of the jewels in the musical crown. The lazy, slinky jazz feel is sublime and Val's classy vocals are amazing on this. Another future in-demander.

For lovers of real instrumentation head straight to the jazzy soul of "Days Like This" which features John Barnes on piano and rhodes, Michael White on drums and Gerald Albright on bass. The evergreen Patrice Rushen joins Val on the chunky plodder, "Alright" which is another one for the Impromp2 lovers out there. Gerald McCauley produces the set, alongside Val. Gerald is one of my favourite producers and has set about this style perfectly, though I do prefer his more soulful ballad-orientated approach. If you have not been aware of this producer then seek out and purchase "The McCauley Sessions" CD from 1999 if you can as it is ESSENTIAL listening. Do not overlook this album.

- Barry Towler - Soul Express


Val Watson is best recognized as the songbird of Club Nouveau, the 80’s super group that made musical history with hits like “Jealousy,” “Situation #9” and the Grammy Award winning cover of “Lean On Me.” As the signature female voice of the trio, for many fans, Club Nouveau is Val Watson.

With the release of her debut solo effort, Urbal on June 8 from Thump Classic R&B, however; Watson sets out to prove her fans delightfully wrong. Club Nouveau may be Val Watson, but Val Watson is certainly not Club Nouveau. With Urbal, the vocalist breaks out her Club Nouveau shell and introduces us to a new vocal persona. Urbal is a free flowing musical ride that reveals her funk face, her jazz side and her just plain ol’ groovin’ back base. And speaking of fans, the Nouveau-lite has plenty of them, including George Clinton, George Duke, Bootsy Collins, Gerald Albright, Patrice Rushen and Michael Cooper. And to prove it, they all join her on the project!

“This solo effort has been budding inside of me for a long time. I love Club Nouveau. The group and I are family, but sometimes a sister just has to bust out with it! Urbal allowed me the opportunity to show a different side of me. I’m excited about the project because Club Nouveau members Jay & Mario are excited and it feels good when the members of the group you’re in not only genuinely support you, but openly push for you to have the solo success they feel you deserve, “ explains Watson.

"Urbal" is an eclectic blending of funk, R&B and jazz. Its flow is earthy, like the title suggest, while at the same time organically rhythmic. On “The Real (Do-Do)” Bootsy and Michael Cooper join Watson for some up tempo house party fun. The vibe is more relaxed and vintage Watson on the dreamy ballad, “Whether You Know It” where she is joined by Jane Eugene of Loose Ends.

While “Soul Shack” takes us all the way back to our ‘70’s groove roots, “Do What Come Funky” is a trip to the mothership, with George Clinton navigating the way. “High (It’s My State of Mind)” is a breezy feel good jam that proves the spirit can be elevated with just song and a beautiful voice.

With Patrice Rushen lending her signature keyboard stylings on the CD’s finale, “Alright,” it’s a perfect conclusion for a project that provides an Urbal remedy to the classic ailments hankering today’s overburdened music generation. Val Watson’s Urbal, like a strong cup of hot herbal tea, will stir you from the inside out…and you’ll find yourself the better for it.

For sound samples and ordering info check her site at

- digital-djs

"Club Nouveau"

CLUB NOUVEAU, under the direction of musical masterminds JAY KING and VALERIE WATSON, is perhaps one of the most distinctive and original groups to influence the contemporary music scene. Since their formation in 1986, the group has sold over ten million records, toured worldwide, charted 11 Billboard hit singles and garnered numerous awards and prestigious nominations. The release of their new project, The Collection Vol. 1, chronicles not only the many successes of Club Nouveau, but also rouses our unconscious as the magic of their music once again hits home to our very hearts. Singer/songwriter/arranger, Valerie Watson and producer/writer/singer and entrepreneur, Jay King formed Club Nouveau. It was King who created a new chapter in musical history when he independently produced, pressed, marketed and promoted the million selling smash “Rumors” by the Timex Social Club, turning it into the biggest selling 12 inch single in history. The Timex Social Club parted ways, but King remained undaunted. He went on to pull together a collection of talented local musicians and formed his own band. Club Nouveau was born! Their debut album, Life, Love & Pain, was a certified phenomenon, beginning with the single, “Jealousy”, which raced into the Top Ten in ten short weeks. It was followed by “Situation #9” which shot to the Top Five in even lass time. Lighting struck a third time when the young ensemble recorded their updated version of the Bill Withers classic “Lean On Me”, and found themselves with the hottest Pop/R&B/Dance crossover hit of that year! “Lean On Me” not only dominated the charts at #1 for five consecutive weeks, it was also named “Song Of The Year” in the 1987 Grammy Awards. In addition, Club Nouveau was nominated in the “Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group” category and landed a pair of American Music Award nominations and two NARM nomination for the million-selling album project, Life, Love & Pain. BAM Magazine named Jay King one of the 100 most influential people in the music business and he was one of the “Top Black Single Publishers” honored by Billboard that year. Considering the fact that Club Nouveau was in the infancy of their careers, it becomes quite apparent as to the legacy that was quickly evolving. Not one to rest on laurels however, the group went on to release a second album, Listen To The Message, which revealed music with more of a social-political theme. Listen To The Message spawned the singles “It’s A Cold Cold World”, which went to #25 on the R&B charts, “Envious” which landed at #76 and “Francis”, a Club Nouveau fan favorite. Fans were pleasantly surprised as the press made comparisons to the likes of Tracy Chapman and Terence Trent D’Arby. Club Nouveau toured worldwide, returning to their third album project on the Warner Bros. Records label, Under A Nouveau Groove. “No Friend Of Mine” from the album went to #12 on the R&B charts. The legacy continued with the release of A New Beginning, which saw the remake of “Oh Happy Day” go to #40 on the R&B charts, and the album Everything Is Black, which charted the single “Let It Go” at #101, both on the group’s own JVK Records imprint. The Collection Vol. 1 covers the tapestry of work from the various albums from Club Nouveau. Joined by newcomer Walter Phillips, Valerie Watson and Jay King offer a mixture of twelve tracks, including the #1 single “Rumors” as well as hits like the 1987 “Lean On Me” and the 1992 sleeper “I Like Your Way” from A New Beginning. Brand new songs included on the project are “ Keep Using Me”, “What Kind Of Love (Secret Rendezvous)”, and “Why You Wanna (Make Me Cry)” possess that unique Club Nouveau flavor that make their tunes so indelible in the brain and heart. “Club Nouveau is not just a group,” expresses Jay King. “Our music marks an era and still boasts a one-on one, very intimate relationship with the hearts of millions. Club Nouveau is an energy field that just keeps evolving!” Passion, depth, and warmth...the music of Club Nouveau reigns on.
- JL Entertainment


Val Watson - Urbal (Thump Records); Val Watson - Live at the Funk Lounge (215 Records); Club Nouveau releases: Life, Love & Pain; Under a Nouveau Groove; Listen to the Message; A New Beggining; Everything is Black; Pentagon; Beginning; Ballads & Love Songs; Greatest Hits


Feeling a bit camera shy


VAL WATSON is the former lead singer of the grammy award winning R&B/Funk band CLUB NOUVEAU that to date has sold over 12 million albums and has had 11 charted hits, including such hits as “Rumors,” “Lean On Me,” “Jealously,” “Situation #9,” and “Why You Treat Me So Bad. ” Club Nouveau was an incredible start for Val’s career, however, Val is not one to rest on her past accomplishments. Val’s dynamic solo debut album, “URBAL” on Thump records features a tasty mix of smooth urban polyrhythmics, poetic alternafunk, classic R&B and deep nasty grooves and has received rave reviews. In addition to Val’s distinctive vocals and songwriting, URBAL features performances from music industry giants such as GEORGE CLINTON, BOOTSY COLLINS, Con Funk Shun front man MICHAEL COOPER, GERALD ALBRIGHT, PATRICE RUSHEN, GEORGE BENSON, HOWARD HEWETT and GEORGE DUKE. The album was produced by the creative GERALD MCCAULEY who has worked with such notables as George Benson, Chante Moore, Bobby Lyle and others. Val co-wrote most of the songs on URBAL, including “Days Like This” which Val co-wrote with the legendary STEVIE WONDER.

In addition to the release of URBAL, VAL has released a live album on 215 Records called “Live at the Funk Lounge” which also features tasty performances with the likes of GEORGE CLINTON, BOOTSY COLLINS, RICKY LAWSON and the EARTH, WIND & FIRE HORN SECTION.

VAL and producer GERALD MCCAULEY are currently preparing to re-enter the studio to begin work on VAL’s next album that will feature new soulful VAL WATSON performances and songs along with performances from many legendary and current stars.

A new VAL WATSON wave has indeed begun and is ready to sweep over the entire planet to fill every heart and ear with the pleasure of VAL’s beautiful voice and music.