STEVE Arrington has serious funk pedigree. First breaking through as percussionist and drummer for “The World’s Greatest Funksters”, Slave, on their boundary pushing 1978 classic The Concept, the group soon had the measure of his extraordinary vocal agility. He moved to lead singer on the band’s string of more R&B-flavoured hits in the early 80s, before leaving to form his own group, Hall of Fame, scoring more chart success with his silky soul-funk songs.
Arrington quit the pop world in 1990 to devote himself to his religious calling; but since 2010 he has slowly re-emerged to spread the message once again.
Now, under the tender care of those hip-hop philanthropists Stones Throw Records, comes news of his first solo album for the label, Down to the Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions, to be released on September 18. Much sampled (Jay-Z, Pharrell, 2Pac) and often called up into musical service (Snoop Dogg, George Clinton and Thundercat) it seems that this unsung hero of funk’s second wave will soon be getting some deserved recognition.
But if September is too long to wait, Steve celebrates the forthcoming drop with a single from the album, a gorgeous slab of relaxed R&B funk “Keep Dreamin’’: powered by so-low bass slides, chiming keyboard trills and that voice.
Arrington’s vocal really has it all on display: the range, the gravel tones, the sweet falsetto and the agile scat to match the bassline fade.
When Steve says the song represents how he has “put in the work for dreams to come true”, you get the feeling he wants his new soul music to reach out way beyond himself.