Musical time travelers, listen up! On his latest album, Josh Charles is ready to stamp your one way ticket back to the magical year of 1974.
Drawing from a deep and dynamic well of influences that includes his mentor, New Orleans legend Dr. John, as well as Allen Toussaint, The Meters, Steely Dan and those classic early Elton John albums, the veteran singer/songwriter and producer puts his own bluesy funk and roll twist on the simmering soulful vibes we were diggin’ in the mid-70s on the perfectly titled collection.
On Friday, August 19, SiriusXM’s Radio Margaritaville (Ch. 24) will premiere the
opening track, the powerhouse brassy funk jam “Best Thing Thatcha Told Me Was Goodbye.” The song, co-penned like all the others by Charles and legendary multi-Grammy nominated songwriter Milton L. Brown, is reprised in an extended nine and a half minute jam that is a highlight at the end of the album. Charles says, “We just let the tape go on that one and the magic came out.”
1974 is set for release on AWAL/Kobalt Friday, August 26. Those ordering in advance on iTunes now will receive an automatic download of “Best Thing Thatcha Told Me Was Goodbye.”
An emotionally resonant, tight and grooving set of originals that takes the warm, enduring sounds of that era and makes them jump as fresh, contemporary blasts of creativity, the album was co-produced at Parlor Studios in New Orleans by Charles and Tracey Freeman, two time Grammy Award winner for his work with Harry Connick, Jr. and Rebirth Brass Band.
One of Charles’ heroes and frequent collaborators, John Oates of the legendary pop/soul duo Hall & Oates, sums up 1974 perfectly: “Josh’s new album takes me back to the golden era of recording in the early 70s - the sound and the feel are just right…he’s got it nailed. Love it!”
The tracks were recorded live using period specific gear and mics with Charles’ pick of the best musicians on the planet, starting with George Porter, Jr., renowned bassist for The Meters and including longtime Hall & Oates musical director and guitarist Shane Theriot, drummer Doug Belote and percussionist Michael Skinkus, with horns arranged by Mark Mullins, trombonist for New Orleans brass funk rock band Bonerama.
“Once I had the right guys,” Charles says, “the other key was finding the perfect studio to get that 70s sound right. The right sonic elements of the room were essential. All the great albums from that time were recorded in what they called ‘dead rooms,’ small boxy recording spaces that are very different from most of today’s facilities. I spent months diggin’ up liner notes and talking to engineers and producers of the time researching how those bands got that classic sound. Finding David Farrell and bringing him to Parlor to record the live sessions there was essential to recreating the vibe of that era to help bring these songs to life.”
Other tracks on 1974 include the Allen Toussaint-inspired simmering, funky “Outa The Blue,” the deeply emotional lament “Edge of the Blues,” a song about “wanting to do right” and “looking for the light” that showcases Charles’ most raw, emotional vocals; the New Orleans R&B, uplifting, gospel/rock/blues driven “Winning Streak”; and a moody and sensual laid back look at a comfortable “Lazy Love.”
Josh Charles brings an eclectic background as a recording artist to the sessions of 1974, including recordings for Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, Island Records, Elektra Records/Warner Music Group. He has produced/co-produced and written/co-written seven albums, including his most recent “NOtown” release Love, Work & Money. In-depth television profiles of Charles and his music — including his philanthropic efforts to help rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — have appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The Tavis Smiley Show,” “CNN” and other outlets.
He has also been featured in national print and digital media, including “USA Today,” “LA Weekly,” “The Huffington Post,” “Keyboard Magazine,” “Voice of America,” “Electronic Musician,” and others. Josh was the first musical artist for Casio, serving as the national spokesperson for Casio’s Privia brand of digital pianos and appearing in the nationwide marketing campaign. He is also endorsed by Gibson Guitars, UVI software and ASTON Mics.
Charles moved to Nashville in 2013 to further develop his career. There he began collaborating with hit songwriters including John Oates, Milton L. Brown, Sonia Leigh, Jeff Cohen, Bridgette Tatum and others in both the country and pop/rock formats. In 2014, Josh also began producing and co-writing with traditional big band singer Steven Davis. Their prolific partnership has led to five albums of original songs and the recently released album of standards, The Way You Look Tonight. In addition to working with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath production team, Charles works with many up and coming artists.
The concept for 1974 was sparked by Charles’ rediscovery of the joys of classic vinyl. “My favorite records were ones by some of the New Orleans legends I’ve worked with, including The Meters, Allen Toussaint and Dr. John,” he says. “Getting a new turntable and stereo inspired me to listen with fresh ears to my collection of great old albums that really got me in the spirit of the mid-70s – particularly Dr. John’s In The Right Place, The Meters’ Rejuvenation, Steely Dan’s Aja and Robert Palmer’s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley. It hit me that you just don’t hear anything recorded these days that comes close sonically or with that vibe and mastery of harmony and melody. How did anyone get this kind of sound? That question quickly evolved into a challenge – Could I somehow pull it off?
“There have been revivals of the 60s in recent years, and in pop there’s a current trend to bring back the 80s – but nobody in this generation is tapping into the kind of music that was blowing everyone’s mind in the 70s,” he adds. “1974 is my contribution to hopefully starting a new movement back to this great era.”