REVIEW: Barrence Whitfield’s “Soul Flowers of Titan” is Radiant and Larger Than Life


Barrence Whitfeld & the Savages’ new release, Soul Flowers of Titan, is the band’s third release on Bloodshot Records. It was recorded at Ultra Suede Studio in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is home of the formerly towering old giant studios: King and Federal studios, which produced rebellious acts like Bill Beach, Sun Ra, and James Brown — hybrid acts that germinated in country and blossomed into R&B and rockabilly in the 1950s and 60s. Following in the Cincinnati footsteps, this project is an adventure in pushing boundaries between genres and exploring new musical heights.

Titan is the Saturn’s largest moon, and one can only imagine that the “soul flowers” there would be radiant and larger than life, much like the songs on the album. Sun Ra once famously claimed he had fallen asleep and been transported to Saturn. “Let’s Go to Mars” is a bluesy number with muddy low end guitar, lyrically inspired by the story of Sun Ra and the only song on the album co-written by guitar player Peter Greenberg with bass player Phil Lenker. “Slowly Losing My Mind” and “I’m Gonna Leave You Baby,” written by Willie Wright of Federal Studio heritage, both showcase classic bottom end blues with punk rockin’ guitar licks buoyed along above.

On “Tingling,” Whitfield reminds us that “love is not real if you don’t feel tingling,” as the band flirts with funk amid saxophone riffs, courtesy of Tom Quartulli. Whitfield’s vocals groove up several octaves, like James Brown’s, on “Pain.” “Edie Please” recalls Henry Mancini’s opening theme for the “Peter Gunn” tv show, but with a world of blues depth and style to back it up. “I’ll Be Home Someday” highlights newcomer Brian Olive on the Hammond B3. The album closer “Say What You Want” showcases Whitfield’s ability to command powerful passion as he begs her not to “say good-bye.”

Ranging through funk, blues, rock, and soul, this album will capture your attention and transport you far away from your troubles, almost all the way to the moons of Saturn.

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