14 Karat Soul: Fridge, Brixton, London

SUBLIMENESS

MOST OF tonight’s audience were no more than a twinkfing in the eye when The Marcels sang ‘Blue Moon’. So perhaps it was some subconscious ante-natal exposure to the ridiculous sublimeness of doo-wop that made their reaction (and mine) the most rapturous imaginable. Even though Fourteen Karat Soul had sung their hearts out earlier in the evening at a GLC benefit, the wee small hours found them a few miles down the road, preparing to do it all over again for the revellers packed into Andy Czekowski’s rapidly reviving nite-spot. In the upstairs bar a whoosh of anticipation cut conversation mid-sentence, Pils were hurriedly slurped down and the throng immediately fell into line behind the band as they conga-d from their dressing-room down to the stage.

Fourteen Karat Soul are the perfect cartoon doo-wop combo. Clothes are natty and footwork is fancy. The lead singer has all the chirpy sweetness of a grown-up Frankie Lymon, and the bass doobie-doos from the bottom of his boots, grinning away with goofy charm. The two tenors and baritone fill in the gaps with rich and liquid larynxes.

Voices are pure, warm and full of humour, and the arrangements are faultless. Throughout their set (almost entirely non-originals), The Fridge’s cool confines glowed with empathy and ecstasy. And, needless to say, Fourteen Karat Soul posed the eternal question: Why do fools fall in love?

© Mat SnowNew Musical Express, 16 April 1983

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