newworldson liveSometimes a band gets buried by their message, producing music for the soul but without soul. Newworldson has avoided that on this fine live album...

All The way Live
Artist: Newworldson
Label: Platinum Pop Music
CD1: 9 tracks / 52:10 minutes CD2: 4 tracks / 38:11

All The Way Live is the perfect storm for a live concert album – the band didn't know that audio was being recorded at England's Big Church Day Out festival (2013), so the performance, while not perfect, is full of funk, fire, spirit, and fun. Now, when I say 'not perfect,' what I mean is not 'studio' perfect. All too often, what's called 'live' is actually a 'sweetened' performance, brought into the studio to correct pitch, re-record solos, and generally remove all of the rough edges. Thankfully, all of the rough edges remain intact on this fine live recording. As if that wasn't enough, on the second disc we get to hear the band a year later. Titled "After Party," it's a more intimate, more improvisational set that goes into 'uncharted territory.'

Described in the liner notes by "Soul Joel" Parisien as a kind of 'coming out party' for the new six-piece version of Newworldson, disc one ("Main Stage") is, indeed, a party. Front-man Parisien does a fine job as your host while handling lead vocals and keyboards. Mark Rogers works hard throughout, supplying plenty of power and funk on drums (nice to hear a live drum solo), Leroy Emmanuel supplies some old-school bluesy guitar work, vocals and (yes) spoons, John Irvine adds back-up vocals and that all-important bass foundation (and some tasty bass runs, indeed), and the great Dave Watson (tenor sax, baritone sax, flute, vocals) and Darryl Dixon (alto sax and vocals) sound like the Tower of Power and Seawind horn sections all distilled down into two people! Amazing, indeed – and if you've ever seen Watson onstage you know that he's a party all by himself!

The first disc covers Newworldson 'hits' such as "Do You Believe in Love," "Salvation Station," "There is a Way," and the dynamic "Son of Man," along with a random sampling of other great songs from the band's studio releases, throwing in the funk -fest, "Faith is The Final Frontier" just for fun (try saying 'funk-fest Faith is the Final Frontier' three times fast).

Looser and more adventurous, the 'After Party' features Newworldson in a solid groove mode, in a free-flight musical adventure covering Ry Cooder, Carlos Santana, and -wait for it – Dottie Peoples! The band really struts its stuff on the twelve minute-plus "Europa," which uses "Dance Like David Danced" as a prelude. A largely instrumental jam, each member rocks out some smooth world-funk that could easily find its way onto your local FM jazz station. Parisien's organ solo is a revelation, Irvine's bass pumps tasty licks throughout and offers a world-class solo, the seemingly-constant high gear of Rogers' drums gets kicked up a notch for a perfect solo break – and of course Watson and Dixon (shouldn't they start a brand? The names really work together) add wonderful spice to the proceedings, especially the opening flute solo by Watson.

Both discs feature full, beautifully-recorded sound that should be delight to any audiophile. The package is a sturdy digipak that opens to four panels with the CDs in the center, edge-to-edge.

It's already established that Newworldson brings something different to the CCM table, and that their studio albums have been delightful diversions. All The Way Live proves that they're not a just a beefed-up studio product but that they can more than hold their own onstage. Too often, the musical aspect of a band gets buried by the message, producing music for the soul but without soul. Newworldson has avoided that and seem headed in a very good direction. This is not another boy band (and Parisein could easily go that route if he wanted to) – instead, we have seasoned performers, some of which – well, let's just say they've been road-tested for more than a year or two.

This is real. A real musical experience, warts and all (not many warts, really). A bad note here and there? Sure. I wouldn't trade it for whatever comes out next week on New Release Tuesday. Soul, funk, boogie – party. Why not?

- Bert Saraco