Lisa & The Lips

Une impressionnante touffe de cheveux, un regard chaleureux et rieur et cette voix qui, depuis plus de 15 ans, fait frémir le rock, c’est Lisa Kekaula, grande prêtresse des BellRays. Avec leur album Have a Little Faith, on avait touché à ce que le combo de Los Angeles pouvait faire de plus passionnant : pousser des cuivres au côté de la fameuse guitare de Bob Vennum, l’autre héros des BellRays. Mais, sur scène, de section cuire, il n’en fut jamais question. Dira-t-on que nous avions perdu espoir ?

Comme souvent, la solution vint d’Espagne, cet étrange pays qui n’achète plus de musique mais qui aime la musique, passionnément. Qui aime le rock, qui aime la fête, qui aime les mélodies charnelles, les débordements d’amour, les nuits interminables, l’électricité et un certain je-m’en-foutisme. C’est à Madrid que s’est nouée l’histoire, en décembre 2012, dans un studio ou le vintage le dispute à l’authentique : Hammond, Wurlitzer, piano, vieux amplis à lampes, pédales… 10 titres écrits par Lisa, Bob, Pablo « Funky » Perez et Henrik Widen (suédois, membre des Diamond Dogs), rapatriés de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique pour y être mixés et masterisés.

Le résultat est à la hauteur des attentes : chaud, coloré, relevé, dansant, excitant, chaloupé, groggy, funky, joyeux. « Mary Xmas » débute comme un bon vieux BellRays ; « You Might Say » nous ballade au bon vieux temps des rues de San Francisco ; « Troubled Mind » réchauffe le whisky jusqu’à l’hypnotique « Stop The DJ », brûlot tellurique diablement excitant ! Mais tout est excitant dans ce disque… Alors sur scène ! Pensez qu’ils sont huit ! La grosse artillerie, le grand jeu !

Many nights were spent listening to the Heart of Gold managers heaping praise on the new project of Ms Kekaula and her Lips. Discussing whether her band was good or not, if the combination of Madrid musicians (with a lot of funk in their blood…and in their hair) and American musicians (including the omnipresent Bob Vennum) had been a perfect fit, and if they sounded better than the Bellrays, a difficult feat… 

Many nights hearing people talk about the project, imagining the Lips…and without being able to listen to them, which in the end is what most interests us. And trying to guess the possible improvements on the exquisite musical legacy of the band that put Lisa & Bob on the map: raw albums, the street energy of Detroit being mixed and melded with a few drops of the best black music and becoming inseparable. I never saw them play a bad concert, but once the surprise factor had worn off, I saved space on my mental hard-drive so I wouldn´t forget one night in particular, at a tribute to Sam Cooke in El Sol in Madrid. Lisa, the main protagonist, put the pith and bluntness of her personality on the backburner to make room for soul and allow it to bloom. And the temperature kept rising.

A few years ago, Lisa asked us to have a bit of faith. And our faith accompanied her, and rightly so: giving embraces and sonorous slaps, velvet snores and fits of rage overflowing with decibels. The rehearsals and recording sessions with her Lips began, and with them, the word was spread by people who talked about them, not just by her management. Having snuck into the rehearsal studio, they came out of there wide-eyed and heaping praise on the band (again).

When the moment came for the acid test, there were her songs, ready to be enjoyed on delicious vinyl, by digital download or on the stage.

Three considerations: Lisa hasn´t lost her claws (when she wants to, she bites just like in her fiercest moments, although she appears to be enjoying herself like a teenager, letting herself be rocked by the hottest funk – check out the hypnotic “Stop the DJ”), she still has a clinical eye for choosing the songs to be included in her album (isn´t her first single one of the best songs that she´s recorded?) and  finally, to say she has helped spread soul across the world wouldn´t be an overstatement. How? By repeating what used to be considered a miracle and nowadays seems like something normal: she´s managed to make a band formed mainly by Spanish musicians fuse with her American soul. By breaking down creative frontiers, geographic and spiritual. Lisa has a band that would make other musicians go green with envy. And she knows how to make it work.

Lisa and The Lips – ( Vicious Circle )