Bob & Gene

If This World Were Mine...

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Though the songs that ended up on Buffalo, NY-based soul duo Bob & Gene's debut full-length, If This World Were Mine... spent 30 years collecting dust on the shelves in William Nunn's (Bobby Nunn's father) basement, there's an energy and spirit to them that makes them as relevant as any other 21st century else release. The youthfulness -- though not immaturity -- of Bobby Nunn and Eugene Coplin's voices comes through clearly in the relatively lo-fi sound of the recordings, which were done in the Nunn's basement where the elder had set up his Mo Do label headquarters and studio, and makes their tight major harmonies, harmonies that wrap themselves around tales of lost and found love, the ups and downs of heartache, both believable and contemporary. With a mix of innocence and teenaged sagacity the two singers, who were barely old enough to drive when their first single, "You Gave Me Love" was released, evoke the sounds of the Jackson 5 (the beginning of "Somebody's Doin' It (War)" -- the somewhat confusing but socially/consciously minded song which puts "evolution and persecution" and "sex education and discrimination" in the same general category -- sounds an awful lot like "ABC"), Marvin Gaye (they cover, and name their album after, his duet with Tammi Terrell), and the Five Stairsteps over surprisingly complicated chord progressions and rhythms. "Your Name" features a funky bass, drum, and sax combo that rides nicely with Bobby and Eugene's overlapping vocals, while the sweet, plaintive cries in "You Gave Me Love" and the slower, bluesier horn-filled "Don't Leave Me Girl" reflect the devotion and passion that both boys clearly had towards the music. There's nothing about If This World Were Mine... that changes the face of soul, and actually, in comparison to other Daptone releases, it's more unprofessional sounding (exemplified on the poorly mixed and recorded "Which Love"), but the album shows what was happening then, apart from Motown and Stax, on the small, independent labels, how the music was able to transform normal people's daily existence into dulcet harmonies and warm organ chords and end up sounding pretty damn good, too.

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