Album: Temple of Soul, Brothers in Arms (Hypertension)

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The Independent Culture

Temple of Soul is a sort of American equivalent of Tackhead, featuring top session players stretching out in search of their own thang – or rather, James Brown's, Jimi Hendrix's and Herbie Hancock's thangs, judging by the jazz-funk indulgence that is Brothers in Arms.

There's no doubting the pedigrees of drummer (and producer of 56 No 1 hits) Narada Michael Walden, E Street Band saxist Clarence Clemons, former JBs bassist TM Stevens and Vernon Ice Black, veteran guitarist with Aretha, Whitney, Mariah and Stevie; but – as ever when musos get together – the results tend to sound like themes from American cop series.

The lack of a proper vocalist dulls the edge, with limp Barry White pastiches and Family Stone-style line-swapping failing to disguise their shortcomings. Black, who has played with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, essays a suitably heavy, FX-drenched "Purple Haze". The most interesting piece is "Ode to China", on which Clemons adopts a raspy tone akin to Gato Barbieri for a collaboration involving Chinese violin and harp; there are more sensitive cross-cultural experiments around, but in these surroundings it sounds positively alien.

Pick of the album : 'Ode to China', 'Anna', 'Purple Haze'