Berkeley Soul

Sy Klopps

Bullseye Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Once upon a time, there was a band named Sy Klopps Blues Band, and they recorded two albums (both presently out of print). While there was a lot of underground buzz about the group, they never seemed to reach the next level of fame - and, for a while, it seemed like they would be doomed to cult status.

Now, the "blues band" moniker has been dropped, and the band (led by lead vocalist Sy Klopps himself) returns with Berkeley Soul. While this disc shows there's still room for the band to grow, this is not a bad effort at all... just a little sleepy at times.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Quite possibly the best move that Klopps could have made was to drop the "blues" tag from his band's name. Oh, there's still evidence of 12-bar blues on this disc, but the laid-back style and groove that this band reaches for feels more like old-school soul or R&B. One could almost see someone like Al Green or Sam Cooke taking on some of these numbers - meaning it's not surprising that Klopps covers two of Cooke's songs on this disc.

What's interesting about the way that Klopps attacks the music on Berkeley Soul is that he accomplishes two goals. First, he reminds the older listener why they loved laid-back soul music in the first place, as tracks like "Talk To Me" and "Walk Slow" prove. Second, he helps to show younger listeners just how special this kind of music was - and is. Yeah, it might not replace the pre-packaged pabulum that the youth of today are listening to, but it might just sharpen their musical palate.

If there's any drawback to this kind of musical attack on Berkeley Soul, it's that sometimes it feels a little too laid-back. Sure, the easy-going style of performance and vocals works well on early tracks like "Wherever I Lay My Hat" and "Cryin For My Baby," but near the end one could have dealt with an injection of some excitement. Tracks like "The Rock" and "Appetite For Love" almost cry out for some kind of musical spark to ignite things. And the less said about "Living In The House Of Blues," the better. (I know the song wasn't written about it, but insert your own joke regarding the over-priced, over-hyped club here.)

By no means is Berkeley Soul a bad album; if anything, this disc will be a wake-up call to anyone who liked Klopps's music at any time, and will remind people that he's still around. But if Klopps and the band could kick the intensity level up just a little bit, they'd have the kind of album that would make them much more recognized in the music scene.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bullseye Records, and is used for informational purposes only.