Crack of Dawn shows no signs of slowing down over 40 years into their illustrious musical career, releasing “Ol’ Skool”, a swooningly gorgeous nod to not only their soul-funk past but to their place at the throne of current-day smooth RnB. Crack of Dawn have been one of Canada’s greatest musical success stories, combining Charles Sinclair’s bass-rumbling funkalicious Parliament onslaught; the slick immediate joy of Earth, Wind and Fire and the tarmac-melting glory of their oozing, classic deep soul ballads. “Ol’ Skool” is as fresh and vital as any releases during Crack of Dawn’s career and is destined to appeal to not only their legions of existing fans but a whole new audience ready for a REAL soul band who play REAL music.
They were the first black band to be signed to a major label (CBS), was discovered by Otis Redding’s producer and outsold their contemporaries, Earth, Wind and Fire in Canada. Despite being tipped for even bigger things by Billboard in the USA, all has been eerily quiet for some time…until now.
Reuniting to re-record some of their classic songs for a new generation and long-time fans, as well as new material, such as their breakout single, “Spotlight”, the album features a breath-taking combination of grindingly deep funk (“Booby Ruby”); guitar and horn-led sunshine soul (“Crack of Dawn”); the wah-wah-drenched glory of “Somebody’s Watching You” and their latest single, the uplifting, back to the future jazz-soul of “Ol’ Skool”. In all, the ten tracks featured rival any of the classic 70s soul and funk outfits, yet still bring a freshness and vitality to the songs that others can only stand back and envy.
To accuse Crack of Dawn as being a collective of experienced musicians would be putting it mildly: featuring among their ranks:
Guitarist and producer Carl Harvey has been lead-guitarist with Toots & the Maytals since their 1980 “Live at Hammersmith” album, sharing in their Grammy win in 2004. His work with Toots & the Maytals included world tour support slots with the likes of Rolling Stones and Santana. Also aboard is Rupert Harvey, founder of Canada’s most successful reggae band, Messenjah, not to mention, sax player, Alvin Jones; trombonist, Trevor Daley who has played with reggae behemoths, Third World; the Latin tones of trumpeter Alexis Baro; keyboardist Bela Hayman; drummer Carl Otway, percussionist Mark Daniels; bassist Charles Sinclair who has played with Al Green, and, not leastly, the generously-buttered soulful voice of Michael Dunston, an aural experience like dipping your head in whipped cream. Like the greatest of funk and rhythm and blues bands, they work as a breathtakingly agile unit, more of a force of nature than a band.
Like pouring moonlight in one ear and sunshine into the other, this is true soul and funk music, performed by a band at the height of their powers playing their own instruments and bringing the glories of their past to the present day.