Graham Central Station

Release Yourself

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After a tentative but promising 1973 debut album, Graham Central Station returned the next year with a head-spinning blend of R&B styles that realized their promise in a truly impressive fashion. Release Yourself touches on everything from gospel music to psychedelia, as the band puts forth an impressive set of songs that strike an effective balance between accessibility and complexity. This time, keyboards carry a new level of importance: songs like "G.C.S." and "I Believe in You" flow forth on elaborate keyboard riffs layered with plenty of spacey synthesizer leads. The album's most impressive achievements are the title track, a pulse-pounding tribute to the joys of self expression that combines churchy organ riffs and stately horns over a furiously-paced bass/clavinet rhythm, and "Tis Your Kind of Music," a psychedelic-funk masterpiece that has Patryce "Chocolate" Banks and Graham trading sultry lead vocals over an otherworldly blend of keyboard and Mellotron riffs with a fluid bassline. Another stunner is "Today," a funk-rock workout that starts with a slowly-woven tapestry of keyboard riffs before launching into a cosmic vocal section that underscores the group's choral harmonies with some fiery guitar leads. Although it lacks an overtly pop-flavored classic like "Can You Handle It?" or "Your Love," nothing on this album is less than interesting thanks to stellar arrangements and the group's obvious love for what they do -- the sunny energy that propels songs like the title track and "Got to Get Through It" is positively infectious. The result is a true gem that is a treat for funk fanatics and a required listen for anyone with a serious interest in Graham Central Station.

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