The New Mastersounds — currently, Eddie Roberts (guitar, production), Simon Allen (drums), Pete Stand (bass) and Joe Tatton (keys) — can trace their origins back to the late 1990s: Roberts was promoting a club night in his native Leeds called The Cooker. When The Cooker moved into a new venue with a second floor in 1999, there was both the space and opportunity to put a live band together to compliment the night’s DJ sets.
Coincidentally, Roberts and Allen had previously played together in the similarly named The Mastersounds, an act with a completely different bassist and without a keyboardist. Because of the intimate nature of the Leeds scene, Roberts and Allen met and recruited Pete Hand and Bob Birch (Hammond) to join what would become The New Mastersounds. Since the release of two limited edition boogaloo leaning 7 inch singles back in 2000, the Leeds-based outfit has released 24 more 7 inch singles, 13 studio albums, three live albums, a remix album — and three compilations released in the UK, Japan and The States. And the band has done that while going through a major lineup change with grizzled Leeds scene veteran Joe Tatton replacing Bob Birch on keys and organ.
The band and its individual members have collaborated with an eclectic and diverse array of musicians, DJs and producers throughout their history, including Lou Donaldson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Quantic, Carleen Anderson, Keb Darge, Kenny Dope, Mr. Scruff, LSK, Lack of Afro, Page McConnell, Grace Potter,Karl Denson, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Fred Wesley, Pee-Wee Ellis, Maceo Parker, Bernard Purdie, George Porter, Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste, Art Neville and Ernest Ranglin.
“A Brighter Day,” can trace its origins back to just after the 2020: Roberts had written a buoyant and uplifting composition that sonically nods to civli rights era Curtis Mayfield and classic Motown soul. Roberts then invited some of Color Red Music‘s top vocalists to contribute lyrics to the song. Earlier this year, I wrote about the first version of the song, which featured Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal‘s Josh Hoyer. Hoyer had penned some uplifting lyrics and put them in the can for whenever the right opportunity would call for them. For Hoyer, that opportunity came when Roberts called the Omaha-based artist and invited him to contribute lyrics. Hoyer’s version thematically is centered around the hope fo a fairer, more just and inclusive world for all, after a brutally difficult and uneasy few years.
The newest version of “Brighter Day” features Ojai-born, Long Beach-based vocalist Adryon de León. de Leon has managed to have a vast and varied career. She’s been a backing vocalist for the likes of Lady Gaga, George Clinton, Macy Gray and others. de León also has a seven year stint as the frontwoman of Orgōne. Currently, she’s one of the vocalists in the soul collective Matador! Soul Sounds alongside Eddie Roberts, Alan Evans, Kim Dawson and Nate Edgar. Additionally, de León contrrbitued vocals to a track on Trent Reznor‘s score for the Netflix biopic Mank.
de Leòn’s version of “Brighter Day” has a completely different tone and feel while retaining the uplifting composition of its predecessor. While Hoyer’s version focused on the larger outside world, de León’s version, which features lyrics written during pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions of last year, focuses on the personal — a glorious reunion with friends and loved ones. Interestingly, the song is underpinned with a simple yet profound call to check in on your loved ones, including the strongest ones because shit was mad real out there. But no matter what, both versions of the song are fueled by an optimism that brighter days will come, even if we don’t know when exactly.