THE FIRST FULL-LENGTH album by Ural Thomas and the Pain has been a long time coming. The R&B revivalist group, led by the 78-year-old soul belter, has been kicking up dust in the local music scene since 2013, and bandleader/drummer Scott Magee talked about sessions for this LP at least two years ago. Considering the long path it took to bring Thomas out of semi-retirement and into the studio, the wait doesn't seem that outrageous.
Thomas was a singer on the rise in the mid- to late-'60s, releasing singles on UNI Records (home to Neil Diamond and Dead Moon precursor group the Lollipop Shoppe) and playing shows with Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones. But after getting run through the music industry wringer, he walked away from the business, returned to his hometown of Portland, and quietly hosted jam sessions out of his home. Enter Magee, a DJ with a deep love of vintage soul and funk, who befriended Thomas and convinced him to get back in the game.
With a few years of live performances under their collective belt, Ural Thomas and the Pain finally entered the studio and solidified their frontman's return. And if you've seen the band in concert, you know precisely what you're going to get with this self-titled double LP (out on Mississippi Records): a collection of heartfelt R&B that aims to replicate the glory days of the mid-'60s when labels like Motown and Stax were at their peaks.