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Chuck Love

Bring Enough to Spill Some

(Om; US: 19 Jun 2007; UK: 19 Jun 2007)

Chuck Love, (nee Charlie Erickson) is a native of Minneapolis, which makes perfect sense once you know it. That’s because a lot of his music resembles a 21st Century update of the “Minneapolis sound”—a sexy amalgam of funk, soul, new wave, rock, and pop, given international fame by Prince and his sundry acolytes, as well as the Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis production team, in the 1970s and ‘80s. In the ever-changing nomenclature of modern electronica, Love’s stuff could be called nu-funk, nu-soul, nu-jazz, deep house, or chunky. Whatever you call it, it has an unmistakable panache that makes you think of the Purple One, among others.


Bring Enough to Spill Some, Love’s first album-length project, basically splits the bill between previously released 12-inch and EP tracks (albeit in Love-edited form) and new material. Especially if you don’t have any of the vinyl, it’s a moot point, though, because Love’s a relative newcomer: Nothing goes back farther than ‘05, and all the material hangs together quite peacefully. Take it all together and you have a situation that Prince fans can relate to these days—a slick, smooth, great-sounding, eclectic album that’s also very uneven, sometimes pushing all the right buttons and sometimes missing them entirely.


Most of the best stuff comes at the front end, meaning Bring Enough… gets off to a red-hot start that leaves itself nowhere to go but lukewarm. “Long Way Down” floats in on breezy, whooshing synths and a tight, funky bassline. The house rhythm, electro touches, and Love’s phased vocals fall into place, making this the weightiest track on the album. Love’s breakthrough track, “Back In My Life” from ‘05, has a much more pop-oriented flavor thanks to frequent collaborator fourfeet’s enlivened, soulful vocals and a dizzy sax riff. It’s a great reminder of how much fun pop can have with house music, and vice versa, and it’s sandwiched between two thick, heavy slices of funk. “Livin’ At Night”, also from ‘05, has the squishy bass, wah-wahs, and mmm hmms to keep your head noddin’ and booty shakin’. The title track goes more minimal and lean, doing damage with little more than electro-bass, a breakbeat, and a crazy-catchy flute loop, one of Love’s many “live” touches. These two could be new remixes of a couple long-lost Dazz Band classics; they’re that good.


And then…then you get breezy samba of “Something Right”, so smooth, easygoing, and saccharine it’s not too removed from Jack Johnson material. It’s a fine pop track, perfectly hummable, but it’s an anticlimax no less. The other Latin-flavored offering, “Bailando”, adds gust vocalist Estaire Godinez and goes for a Brazilian/house feel, but still feels slight. In a sense, Love mixes things up with nu-soul tracks like “Never Forget” and the anthemic, clichéd “Soul Symphony”; even throwing in an effortless midtempo ballad (“Next to You”). But in another sense, he’s hemmed in by his signature sound and ultra-smooth, breathy vocals—he’s great at being the nice-guy cool cat, but he’s that same guy on most every song. Absent standout tracks, even the remaining funk numbers start to sound like combinations of interchangeable parts, however refined those parts may be.


You’d be best-advised to cherry-pick the handful of can’t-miss tracks and wait for the next Love near-classic, except for the matter of the second, “bonus” disc included with Bring Enough. It’s a full-length, continuous DJ set consisting solely of Love or Love-remixed tracks, featuring labelmates Andy Caldwell, Colette, and DJ Heather, as well as licensed tracks. Again, the highlights range in feel from electro-funk (Sound Navigators’ “The Grind”, Love’s own “Giveitupsista”) to nu-soul (Toydon’s “Learn to Love”, White Lotus Society’s “Got It”) to pop-leaning house (Colette’s “About Us”, Li’Sha Project’s “Feel”).  It’s striking how consistent Love’s smooth production style is regardless of who he’s mixing; most everything could fit nicely on disc one. The DJ mix, though, is certainly a better context in which to appreciate Love’s style. And it’s that style as well as the bargain factor that bump Bring Enough to Spill Some up to a cut above average.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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