Monday, August 8, 2011

Useful Numbers: 24-7-365

Keni Stevens: 24-7-365


24-7-365 is the number that “gets you on the loveline” with Keni Stevens (except, presumably, in Olympic years). It’s the sort of lyric one might expect from a 1980s soul song. But don’t let this slive of cheese mislead you about the soul stylings of the sadly underrated Keni Stevens.

The British soulster of distinctive style and voice released only three albums of sophisticated, cool soul. The debut, 1987’s Blue Moods is the best-known of them. The song here comes from the 1988 follow-up, You, which I consider to be the better album. Indeed, the first side of You is absolutely exquisite (when Stevens sings about the pain of heartbreak in 'Hurt This Way', you feel it with him), as good as any soul LP first side released in the 1980s. It's a superb laid-back soul album by a self-assured independent singer who never got his due.

Things could’ve gone better for the son of a US serviceman. Two singles he released on the independent Elite label in 1985 attracted interest from a few majors. Polygram reportedly offered him an £2,5 million contract. Stevens turned it down in favour of maintaining artistic independence. He became something of a favourite among British soul fans. Though he never bothered the UK Top 75 singles charts, Blue Moods sold 150,000 copies in Britain, and a reported million worldwide.

The saxophone on '24-7-365' is by Mike Stevens, who also did guitar duty. I presume that this is the same Mike Stevens who served as musical director for Take That and released a jazz-fusion album.

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