Listen to Brian Olive's Lounge Acts session in the audio player above.
Whether it's finishing work on his long-awaited third solo album or finding the perfect spot for a new recording studio, Brian Olive is a man of infinite patience. That explains why the sessions for his upcoming effort, "Living on Top," took close to three years: The retro sound-loving former member of beloved Cincinnati garage rock icons The Greenhornes and Detroit's hard-charging Soledad Brothers toiled to make sure it sounded just right.
Based on a preview of four songs Olive played on the latest edition of WCPO's Lounge Acts podcast, the results are well worth the wait. Asked when he started working on "Top", Olive was pretty sure it was 2015. But then he was reminded by a band member that it was actually the year before, explaining that "a few things" were getting in the way. "It was worth taking the time to do because I like the way this one worked out," he said.
Taking over the Digital Lounge with an all-star band that included Yusef Quotah (Halvsies, You, You're Awesome) on keyboards, Tim Seiwert (Whiskey Shambles, Casey Campbell) on drums, bassist Andy Jody (Barrence Whitfield & the Savages) as well as back-up singers Beth Harris (The Hiders, the Perfect Children) and Kristen Kreft (The Perfect Children), Olive rocked the room with a heavy dose of his patented Motown-influenced soul.
The album's title track is a propulsive choogle that mixes the blue-eyed soul of Steve Winwood's Traffic with such Motor City legends as Mitch Ryder and Bob Seeger, with Olive handling the chicken-scratch lead guitars, yearning vocals and playing a wicked, frenetic saxophone solo.
The equally funky "It's a Lie" is indicative of the throwback Motown boogie of the album, with Harris and Kreft laying down some harmonious "doot, doot" backing vocals and Olive singing about "moving down the road" as he laments a love that is clearly just a fib. "It's kind of a white guy doing soul, that's what [it] is," Olive laughed when pressed to describe the sound of the album. "I probably listened to the same music that he [Ryder] listened to growing up… Motown and old R&B stuff."
One of the issues that delayed the album's completion was Olive winding down his old studio, The Diamonds, a ramshackle spot that was forever on the verge of collapse, even as he moved into a new space. His new studio, Mt. Saturn, is on the edge of Mt. Airy's forest; he described it as a kind of creative heaven on earth.
Taking huge inspiration from legendary 1980 John Belushi/Dan Ackroyd musical comedy "The Blues Brothers," which inspired him to pursue music, Olive also revealed that the lone cover on the new album is his take on the 1969 single "A New Day Begins" by the Parliaments.
The song from the group fronted by future funk godfather George Clinton served as a bridge between doo-wop and the experimental funk/rock hybrid that Clinton would explore in the 1970s, and it's an apt example of the curious intersection of styles that Olive has been pursuing his whole career. Why that song? "I like the bridge… the bridge is… really odd," Olive said.
Although Olive wrote, produced and played just about everyone on "Living on Top," he will be joined by his smoking hot band for an album release show at the Woodward Theater on Friday (Apr. 28), with support from his friends in opening acts Pop Empire and Royal Holland. Superfans will also be able to get some limited-edition test pressing colored vinyl versions of the album at the show, so get there early if you just can't wait, or click here to order it on PledgeMusic.
"It felt like that rock feeling creeping back up in me," Olive explained of the more uptempo, funky sound of his latest, a-follow up to 2014's "Move" EP and 2011's poppies "Two of Everything". Watch the podcast for a preview or come down to the Woodward to see the rock and fire explosion in the flesh.
- What: Brian Olive "Living on Top" Album Release Show
- Where: Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over the Rhine; (513) 345-7981
- When: Friday, Apr. 28; doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m.
- Information: 18+, $7 advance, $10 day of show; click here to buy tickets