Ian Willson - Straight From The Heart LP
Label: Be With
Release Date: April 17th, 2020
Be With Records work with Ian Willson to reissue his self-released, West Coast classic Straight From The Heart, privately pressed and originally released in 1985. This is the only album Ian ever put out. A magical blend of AOR/sophisticated funk/synth-boogie/spiritual jazz and modern soul, it's a spellbinding record of many colors. You might already know Straight From The Heart for the dubby-disco paranoid-Balearic anthem "Four In The Morning," and it's easy to assume this is probably just another one of those one-track LPs. But this is an impressively slick record from start to finish. Album opener "Think About It" is all sorts of right. It's emotional. It's tops-off. It's funk in its purest form. And take the proto-modern-funk of the title track (half Dâm-Funk/half Dâd-Funk). The shimmering, spiritual bossa-jazz of "If I Were You" serves as the album's soaring centerpiece. A gorgeous suite of cosmic vibes to get Gilles frothing, it sounds like nothing else on the record which makes sense given that it was recorded a couple of years earlier, and is the only track on the LP that wasn't recorded in Ian's own studio. Side B opens with the propulsive ode to love that is "Two Is Better Than One". Wonderfully sparse when it needs to be, it's also richly percussive and that special kind of California-warm.
Frenetic, speaker smashing synth and horn workout "Funk Invasion" dares you not to dance and "A Game Called Love" is heavily indebted to Prince with its lush, deep funk stylings. The sweeping sax-drenched instrumental "Song For Katelyn" is head-nod, beat-heavy AOR for that melancholic magic hour. It all adds up to the ultimate BBQ record. Almost all of Straight From The Heart was recorded over a few months between 1983 and 1984 on Ian's brand new Otari 8 track in the Oakland, California studio he built just the year before. Only "If I Were You" was recorded elsewhere, at Bay Sound in 1982. Ian produced the album himself and played all of the instruments, except for the guitar of his longtime friend, Peter Fujii. Tower Of Power, Average White Band, Earth Wind & Fire, and Stevie Wonder was the list of influences Ian gave when asked. Why did he put the record out himself? Simple, he had no idea how to go about getting a record deal. The original tapes have long since been lost. This reissue was remastered from Ian's one-and-only pristine copy.