His blend of power rock and old-time Motown soul was just the ticket for my somewhat jaded palette. In fact I’ve been a bit remiss here and failed to pick him up through the Gnarls Barkley and earlier solo career but I shall definitely be checking out his last album ‘The Lady Killer’ and his back catalogue without delay.
However, it wasn’t just the quality of music that piqued my interest, it was the band configuration. As I am sure you all know by now, I favour female singers and my preferred band set up is a batch of male instrumentalists fronted by a female singer. This just works for me as it has all the advantages of male aggression in the musical presentation, melded with the sensitivity of a woman in the vocal department. Over the years I have collected dozens of these bands from my first love, Curved Air in the 1970s, through Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Dubstar and Lush to Garbage and beyond to name but a very, very few.
But the musical force that is Cee Lo Green does it differently. His idea is to back himself with a self-contained female band, Scarlet Fever, comprising Sharon Aguila (guitar), Brittany Brooks (drums), Theresa Flaminio (keyboards) and Regina Zernay Roberts (bass). Their brand of soul infused stadium rock suits Cee Lo to a tee and it is heart-warming to see ‘proper’ instruments in a live environment. Oh dear, am I sounding old?
Of course, many of you will remember Robert Palmer’s video for ‘Addicted To Love’ in which he pulls the same gender-reversal trick but in that instance he was using models (in case you hadn’t spotted that…) rather than real musicians. Despite being put together through audition, Scarlet Fever is a proper band and they rock. I can’t think of another example of a male fronted female band off the top of my head, although I have vague thoughts of Prince doing something similar so this may not be the first of its kind. But if the Cee Lo Green experience is anything to go by, there should be more.