Music

Doing the Damn Thing with the Soul Motivators

Photo: Courtesy of Do Right! Music via Bandcamp

The Soul Motivators, one of Canada's leading funk bands, do the damn thing on their sophomore album. And they strongly encourage you to as well.

Do the Damn Thing
The Soul Motivators

Do Right! Music

24 January 2020

The Soul Motivators, a funk band from Toronto, Canada, immediately get down to business on their sophomore album, Do the Damn Thing. Barely two seconds into the album, vocalist Shahi Teruko commands, "Do the damn thing / Make love and dance and sing / You got to get on the floor / You know life can give you more." Sounds like an action plan to me.

The Soul Motivators released their debut album, Free to Believe, in 2015, but they've been honing their expertly funky craft onstage and via a few seven-inch singles ever since. Do the Damn Thing is their first album with Teruko, whose soaring vocalizing is the perfect vehicle for the generally uplifting lyrics. The Soul Motivators take their name seriously, using their platform to encourage listeners to follow James Brown's evergreen advice on getting up, getting into it, and getting involved. And, of course, doing the damn thing.

The lyrics in the album's title track represent a clear statement of purpose for the Soul Motivators, but so does the music. "Do the Damn Thing" is hard-hitting funk, straight out of the mid-1970s. Teruko's hot singing, of course, but also a percolating rhythm section, tight horns, and a funky-as-all-get-out organ solo. We've heard all these elements before -- just as we've heard the motivational lyrics about doing or dying, acting like you know, it's the only way to fly, you've got to be yourself, etc. -- but when it's done right, as it is on "Do the Damn Thing", it is always a blast to hear it again.

"Drag and Drop" maintains the energy, adding a bit of a hard rock guitar edge as Teruko repeatedly exhorts, "people of the world, won't you get involved". "Say What You Mean", meanwhile, advocates self-expression, while cautioning against "self-sabotage". "Modern Superwoman", Teruko's heartfelt tribute to working single mothers, musically feels like it would be right at home on one of Stevie Wonder's classic albums. But it is also very easy to imagine British singer Lisa Stansfield belting out "this is a biography of a modern superwoman" to great effect.

The Soul Motivators effectively slow things down a bit on the wistful "Miss Those Days", which laments innocence lost and/or a lost relationship. Meanwhile, later album tracks "All the Way to the Bank" and "Mindblastin" both match the intensity of "Do the Damn Thing" and "Drag and Drop".

Finally, it must be noted that, while the Soul Motivators are clearly devoted to imparting important messages through their lyrics and Teruko's voice, the band – which includes, in addition to Teruko, James Robinson (keys), Marc Shapiro (bass), Voltaire Ramos (guitar), Doug Melville (Drums), and Derek Thorne (percussion) -- has also done a great service to the world with one of the two excellent instrumentals on Do the Damn Thing. For decades, music fans, whether they've known it or not, have craved a Philly-soul-styled funk jam named "Savalas", and now, such a thing exists. Somewhere in '70s cop show heaven, a lollypop-sucking Kojak is sending a great big "Who loves ya baby?" down to the members of the Soul Motivators.

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