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The New Mastersounds – Plug & Play

150 x limited gold vinyl
Traditional black vinyl
Pressed on 2LP for the first time
Lacquer cut for optimal sound
Featuring Dionne Charles
Gloss laminated sleeve
New cover art
Limited edition t-shirt

For over 20 years, guitarist and producer Eddie Roberts and drummer Simon Allen have been playing music together, and have been the nucleus for British, Jazz, Funk, Fusion, band, The New Mastersounds (NMS). Before forming NMS in 1999, the two played in their first group together, which was simply titled The Mastersounds. At the time, Roberts was looking to put a new lineup of players together. Allen’s unschooled sound and approach to drumming was exactly what he had set out to find in a backbone to a rhythm section. 

The two not only connected and communicated effectively on a musical level, but they also had similar aspirations to escape their then residence of Leeds, England. They saw their musical endeavours as a way to accomplish that goal and did so by naturally building a worldwide following with NMS. On the stage and in the recording studio it is a Yin and Yang type balance that has barred such a sustainable creative relationship between Allen and Roberts.

On the 3rd June 2022, KU is reissuing the NMS 2008 LP ‘Plug & Play’. KU is paying tribute to one of the most acclaimed and iconic records in the NMS catalogue, with a 2LP vinyl release, with brand new artwork, bonus remixes, and a t-shirt The re-release is an opportunity for new fans to be exposed to this masterpiece LP, old fans to explore an NMS classic through fresh ears, and for the band to reflect back on the record they made nearly 15 years ago.

As far as recording the record, there was nothing new about the approach. By this time the band had found a formula for making records that they found to make most sense and suit their chemistry well. Richard Formby was their goto engineer and Hall Place Studios in Leeds, was the space that breeds the desired sounds. This process would remain the same until the band started making records in the United States a few years later.

While there were no changes in the recording process, there were some notable additions and changes to the personnel that shaped the sound and dynamic of Plug & Play. Maybe the most recognisable of the additions was the featuring of vocal powerhouse, Dionne Charles on nearly half the record. We had heard her singing with her band Baby Charles with their excellent afro-soul cover of the Arctic Monkeys song “Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and we loved her raw sound. We met at a show in London and she sang “Think (About It) by Lyn Collins with us and we were hooked. We had a real laugh with Dionne and it seemed to come together quickly and organically (which was just as well since we could only ever afford 4 or 5 days in the studio)” said Allen. As he reminisced about what inspired the group to call upon Charles to fill such a large role on the record.

Plug & Play was also the first record that keys player Joe Tatton played on. He came into the band in 2007, replacing then keyboardist Bob Birch. Tatton’s first appearance on an NMS record was not only as an active player on the tunes but also as a composer on the record. Contributing “Altitude” and “All We Can Do”. Tatton’s classic organ tones and feel on the keys were a perfect match and complement to rhythmic elements and an added lushness to the melody.

The KU ‘Plug & Play’ Reissue is a snapshot in time of a  band that was around the 10-year mark of their career. There’s undeniable chemistry and energy captured in the recordings that could only come from musicians who were tapped in and listening to one another’s ideas and playing. With each track leaving you wondering how they were able to find that much pocket, and how much deeper could it possibly go!

By Dan Cable – 08/04/2022

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#newmastersounds #dionnecharles #reissue
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