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 Lejeds 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.
Over the past few months, the members of The New Mastersounds have been collaborating with a number of incredible vocalists including Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal‘s Josh Hoyer and Ojai-born, Long Beach-based vocalist Adryon de León. The acclaimed soul and funk act’s latest single sees them collaborating with Macon, GA-born, Atlanta-based singer/songwriter and musician Lamar Williams, Jr.
Lamar Williams, Jr.’s father, Lamar played bass with The Allman Brothers and Sea Level, and as a result, Williams grew up in a very musical home: the younger Williams can trace the origins of his own music career to his childhood, singing in church and at school functions. Although the younger Williams lost his father at a very young age, he can say that he started his career independently with the help of friends and advisors throughout the years.
Williams landed his first record deal in Miami, after winning many talent shows and working with a number of sings of bands in the early 90s. He spent the next handful of years working with more bands and artists and various recording opportunities. During that period, Williams — through those various projects — shared stages with Little Richard, 112, Jagged Edge and a lengthy list of others.
By 2000, Williams began working with then-Macon-based act Revival. After moving the band to Athens, Williams began opening with Demun Jones — for Rehab in 2007. This lead to years’ long ongoing collaboration with the band that included played with, opening for and recording with the band while working on and developing his own sound and solo projects. Along with that, Williams has been extremely busy: Following in his father’s footsteps, he has sat in with The Allman Brothers Band and with Oteil and Friends. He’s the lead singer of Les Brers. And he’s currently working on a solo album with Mike Hartnett.
The collaboration can trace its origins back to when New Mastersounds bandleader and Color Red founder Eddie Roberts met Lamar Williams, Jr. at a Denver-based benefit show in early 2018 coordinated by The Gregg Allman Band‘s Peter Levin. As the story goes, Roberts and Willliams instantly connected. So when The New Mastersounds were touring through Atlanta, Williams joined the band for three songs, which lead to a deeper musical relationship.
Recorded in November 2018, Williams’ and The New Mastersounds’ latest single is a testament to their musical bond. Featuring some gorgeous yet hypnotic pedal steel by John Macy, “Trouble” is a slow-burning, bourbon and regret tinged blues with gently padded drumming, funky organ blasts and a strutting groove. And over that soulful arrangement, Williams contributes assured yet silky smooth vocals. While sonically hinting at What’s Going On era Marvin Gaye and B.B. King‘s “The Thrill Is Gone,” the song manages to be centered around a socially-charged, conscious message: “In general, the song inspiration came from how I think people perceive each other without giving love a chance for them to learn and lend their abilities to each unique situation,” Williams explains.