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New World Generation

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Album Review

This double disc issued by Stones Throw's Now-Again imprint documents the recordings around a New England group called New World Generation that cut a lone self-titled EP, privately released in 1982. The date of that release and the size of NWG's personnel offer explanations as to why they languished in obscurity. NWG contained nine members. The music they played was modeled after the soul and funk of the 1970s, from Earth, Wind & Fire to Kool & the Gang, Patrice Rushen, and George Duke's large-scale jazz-funk. Label head Eothen "Egon" Alapatt was contacted by Phil Morrison of outré 21st century jazzers Stark Reality; he had worked with NWG when the EP was released. Now-Again, knowing their largest markets for this kind of music were in Japan and France, sought out Lekan Parsons — who co-produced, wrote and played keyboards for, and sang in NWG — for more material. Parsons told them he had none, but possessed masters from other groups he'd worked with during the era. He took several years to painstakingly assemble a package for the label, and this is what they heard. The most remarkable thing about these tracks, finished demos, and alternate mixes is how sophisticated the vocals and melodies are; there is a harmonic richness here that goes far beyond the usual "lost grail" recordings in such abundance in the digital age. Funk, soul, disco, boogie, and jazz are melded seamlessly, providing a set that could have easily come from one group, not the four represented here. NWG's versatility is revealed in a reproduction of a notebook page in the CD booklet that lists their live repertoire. They performed covers by the aforementioned mentors, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, George Benson, Larry Graham, the Gap Band, Evelyn King, Melba Moore, Donna Summer, and even "Lady" by Kenny Rogers (!), to name a few. The professionalism and work ethic it took to pull that off shines on this set that features work by NWG and related groups Universal Rhythms (1972), Orison (1980), and Book of Dreams (1982-1983). The first disc offers flawless finished masters, while disc two features some earlier work where the source tapes were in slightly worse shape. That said, the drive and aesthetic revealed on disc one is in ample evidence here as well, with punchy and driving basslines, dreamy Rhodes pianos and synths, chunky guitars, and skittering drum work that merge seamlessly with each act's gorgeous vocals. Assembled, they create a body of music that is uplifting and positive in philosophy, and timeless in its quality. Paired with Now-Again's usual high-level packaging, this set is indispensable for any fan of the classic large-group soul era.


Formed: 1981

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '80s

New World Generation were a cult New England ensemble led by composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Lekan Parsons. Their sole release was a 1982 privately pressed, self-titled, five-song EP that hearkened back to the sounds of an earlier R&B era. Comparison's to the Roy Ayers-produced RAMP album, Come Into Knowledge, and albums from the mid-'70s cosmic-soul era, Earth Wind & Fire, are apt. The band played gigs in the region, and quietly disbanded. In the early 21st century, Phil Morrison,...
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