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12 Sep 2016

Jasmine “Jasmine” 1977 US Soul Funk Fusion







Jasmine “Jasmine” 1977 US ultra rare Soul Funk Fusion
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I really didn’t know what to expect from1976’s “Jasmime”. The few brief online reviews I’d stumbled across variously labeled the album as disco, funk, and even jazz-rock fusion. Not particularly promising for an album that’s always been difficult to score and increasingly expensive. 

Well, as it turned out all of those descriptors were correct when it came to 1this album. With all nine tracks credited to ‘Richard Barmelle’ (don’t even bother trying to look him up on the net), this one literally bounced all over the musical spectrum. 

- The opener 'Four Fifths’ was a pounding jazz-rock instrumental with some tasty lead guitar and a great bass solo. Imagine Chuck Mangione hanging out with Jeff Beck, Carmen Appice, and Jack Bruce and you’d get a taste for the results. I’ve never been a big fusion fan, so this one didn’t do all that much, though I’ll admit to liking to brief bass and guitar solos. rating: *** stars 
- Showcasing an anonymous female singer and one exceptionally graphic tale of female vengience ('the last time he saw me smiling was when I had that gun in my hand’), 'Bye, Bye Mrs. Heartbreak’ was a decent slice of adult contemporary soul. The singer was okay, if a little stiff - picture Donna Summer singing in a body cast. I will say she sure did sound pissed off. Unfortunately the song faded out somewhat unexpectedly. rating: *** stars 
- 'Being Together’ featured another anonymous female vocalist; this one apparently a little older, equally stiff., though not nearly as good. This time out the target genre was blues, though the combination of crappy orchestration and the strained and out of tune vocals made the end result pretty irritating. When this lady grasped for the high notes it was truly painful. Giving credit where due, the song boasted a nice jazzy guitar solo, but that didn’t even come close to salvaging this aural mess. rating: * stars 
- 'Sweet Bee’ was another instrumental that was equally parts funk and jazz. Nice bass pattern and some interesting horn charts (shades of Earth, Wind and Fire), made this one of the LP’s more enjoyable offerings. Again, nothing that would change your life, but worth hearing and might get your butt swinging a bit. rating: *** stars 
- Side one’s most commercial offering, the instrumental 'Twice Is’ could have generated some attention as the theme for a television series. or perhaps as the soundtrack for a radio ad for a local bank. Momentarily interesting (there were some cheesy synthesizer notes), but you forget it in a couple of minutes. Hum, kind of like most television, or radio commercials. rating: ** stars 
- 'He’s Coming Now’ started side two off with an entertaining, if throwaway slice of funk. Hysterical lyrics from chanting female singers and a uplifting riff made this one of the album highlights. rating: **** stars 
- If you didn’t know better you’d swear 'No Regrets’ was a joke, meant as kind of a Saturday Night Life takeoff on a sleazy lounge singer’s repertoire. I have no idea who this poor woman was, but listening to her struggle to carry the tune was both funny as heck, and sad. One of the few times I can actually say I’ve looked forward to hearing a flute solo since it served to give the woman a reason to stop singing. rating: * stars 
- 'Voyage’ opened up with some of the cheesiest synthesizer chords you’ll ever hear and never let up. Imagine Jarre, or perhaps Vangelis playing one of those $20 Casio keyboards with his butt cheeks and you’d get a feel for this one. On the other hand it’s so bad that it actually pushes into the freak sound zone which has it’s own legions of fans. I’ll give it the extra star for the fact it is so bad !!! rating: **** stars 
- So how would you improve on 'Voyage’? Well Barmelle actually found a decent song to close the album with. 'Smooth As Velvet’ was another one of those television theme jazz-funk romps that he seemed to excel at. The groove was actually surprisingly attractive with some nice horns and pop bass slapped on top of it. rating: **** stars 

Hardly the Guinness standout some high priced dealers would have you believe ('one of the best and most desirable on the Guinness label …’), the results were occasionally mildly entertaining, but you’ll have to make the decision as to whether it’s worth the asking price (I’ve seen sealed copies going for as much as $400). 

“Jasmine” track listing: 
(side 1) 
1.) Four Fifths (instrumental) (Richard Barmelle) - 3:00 
2.) Bye, Bye Mrs. Heartbreak (Richard Barmelle) - 3:10 
3.) Being Together (Richard Barmelle) - 3:12 
4.) Sweet Bee (Richard Barmelle) - 3:30 
5.) Twice Is (Richard Barmelle) - 2:23 

(side 2) 
1.) He’s Coming Now (Richard Barmelle) - 3:51 
2.) No Regrets (Richard Barmelle) - 3:35 
3.) Voyage (instrumental) (Richard Barmelle) - 4:03 
4.) Smooth As Velvet (instrumental) (Richard Barmelle) - 3:00 

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