papa was a Rolling Stone Foundation.

Stone Foundation have been plying their tight Mod/Soul sound around the Midlands for around 10 years now, building a loyal following. And they may well be about to move up to the next level, with a confirmed date at Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage Festival next week and a coveted support slot on the upcoming Specials tour.

Above: Joe ‘Pep’ Harris: who are these guys?

But last Friday night at Cox’s Yard in Stratford was all about Joe ‘Pep’ Harris, flown in from Detroit to front the band for a mind-blowing set of soul standards and floor stompers. Stone Foundation — supporting themselves, so to speak — warmed the place up nicely, but when Joe sauntered on in his immaculate, all-white safari suit, the temperature soared.Even at 70, there’s an extraordinary raw power to his voice. From the moment he hit the first notes of ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ (which he’d cut with the Undisputed Truth before the Temptations), you knew you were in for a rare treat. Looking slightly constrained on a tiny stage, Joe effortlessly moved from sweet-sweet soul to deep-down funk, clearly impressing the band as much as the audience. Highlights were the dramatic ‘Smiling Faces Sometimes’ and the full-on ‘Hole in the Wall’.

Above: The Undisputed Truth: I’ll have to wear a bit of make-up, you say?

A bit of background on the mighty Joe… after singing with The Preps and The Ohio Players in the 1960s, he moved to Motown to become the voice of the Undisputed Truth in the 1970s. This was producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield’s so-called ‘psychedelic soul’ experiment, which lasted eight years and 10 albums.Catch him while you can, he’s a true talent.

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