How often does a band that puts out two albums, neither of which exactly dominated the mainstream, get a greatest hits album? Well, in this one instance it does happen. The band Cooly’s Hot Box, which featured the duo of John-Christian Urich and Angela Johnson, released two albums in the early 2000’s that discerning soul music lovers enjoyed immensely (that includes me). Now on the Tortured Soul (Urich’s current band) Bandcamp page, you can find the album Choice Cuts, featuring fourteen of the best of the group’s output.
You can see for yourself whether or not it is worth your time right here (or go to the Tortured Soul Bandcamp page):
Since I already have all these tracks, I don’t need to make that purchase. But if you are looking for soulful acid jazz with touches of house, good ol’ R&B and classy sounds, give this a shot. There are two songs that didn’t make the cut that I would have included, and I’ve chosen them to be today’s Morning Grooves.
The first of these is the title track from their first album, Take It, which features Johnson on the lead vocals:
The second of my picks is the funky dance number “Take Me Home Tonight,” also from the same album, but with Urich on the lead:
The group has split up, so it is highly unlikely there will be any more songs from them other than the ones on their two albums (the second of them being Don’t Be Afraid-Get On). But both albums are available to stream or purchase digitally (MP3 or on CD; I don’t see any vinyl available) if you are so interested.
The story for Urich and Johnson did not stop after the band broke up. Urich is a member of the live house band Tortured Soul, a fabulous dance band that plays a brand of house that features some jazzy touches with R&B. Johnson has fashioned a fine solo career, that, while not exactly burning up the mainstream, has gotten her major attention for her songwriting as well as her vocals in adult R&B circles. I’m a big fan and each of her albums improves over the one before. Her latest, Naturally Mine, may be her best yet.
I hope you enjoy these tracks from Cooly’s Hot Box, or from Urich and Johnson if you prefer. As always, thanks for reading and listening.
Here’s a little something extra for both artists: from Urich, a remix of “I Might Do Something Wrong” that features one-time lead vocalist of the Brand New Heavies, N’Dea Davenport. It’s some of that danceable house that Tortured Soul specializes in, but given a little extra kick.
From Johnson, the breezy R&B track “A Beautiful Place,” one of many great songs from Naturally Mine.