Midlands based Stone Foundation recently launched their new album “A Life Unlimited” with a preview evening at the Brew Dog in Birmingham. Our LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch a mini-acoustic set by the band and a DJ playback of the new album in full.

stone foundation album

stone foundation album



The launch evening was a free entry promotion with the full band in attendance and an excited group of loyal fans, friends and band associates who had headed into Birmingham, eager to hear the new album.

The mini-acoustic set primarily featured a 4 piece line of Neil Jones (vocals/guitar), Ian Arnold (keyboard), with Gareth John and Gary Rollins (horns).  “Learning The Hard Way” was the set opener, and the quartet was then joined by Neil Sheasby and Rob Newton to add backing vocals to next song “Pushing Your Love”. The stage was then left to Gareth Johns and Ian Arnold for a rendition of the album’s closing instrumental track “Old Partners, New Dances”. Established favourite “To Find The Spirit” (with an intro based on “Tracing Paper”) saw the band back to a four piece and the crowd encouraged to sing along by front man Neil Jones. The short set was closed with a grooving version of  Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”.

The whole event was filmed by the BBC and footage appeared on the next day’s “Midlands Today”.  You can watch the clip here:

Following the set, the album received a full playback and copies were available to buy on the night from Bookshop Pete who handles the band’s merchandise desk.

Here’s a Youtube teaser for the album released on the band’s official site:

The album’s opening track “Beverley” was already familiar to most as the song features in a new film of the same name, produced by Cass Pennant and directed by Alexander Thomas. The film is about a mixed-race girl growing up in Leicester in the 2-Tone era with the key line being the repeated mantra of “the rules of the skin are wearing thin”. Here’s a link to the official video:



Next track “Pushing Your Love” is built up on the back up harmony vocals from The Four Perfections, and leads nicely into “Something In The Light” (echoes of Van Morrison) and “The Turnaround” which features classic 70s soul string sounds from The Q Strings.

The album then toughens up with the jazzier “Speak Your Piece” and “The Night Teller” (featuring Graham Parker).  “Learning The Hard Way” sounds like a potential single and live favourite.

Both “These Life Stories” and “A Love Uprising” have strong bass lines, the latter wouldn’t sound out of place on ABC classic “Lexicon of Love”.

The album comes to a gentle close with melancholic instrumental “Old Partners, New Dances”.

Keen to avoid being pigeonholed, the band has made its own sound from a number of diverse influences. If you put Van Morrison, Dexys, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack, Nolan Porter, the Funk Brothers, Martin Fry and the jazzier early version of the E Street band into the studio with producer Andy Codling and songs written by Neil Jones and Neil Sheasby, when you put your ear to the studio wall, the sound that you would hear is the undisputably Modern soul sound of Stone Foundation.

Knowledge of the band has been steadily growing and the band has been championed by DJs Craig Charles and Robert Elms. Blistering live shows in the UK, Europe and Japan has built up the band’s media presence and the new album is already creating a buzz – in its first week it entered the UK vinyl chart Top 10, and broke into the Independent UK Top 30 Chart.

Album track list – A Life Unlimited


Pushing Your Love

Something In The Night

The Turnaround

Speak Your Piece

The Night Teller

Learning The Hard Way

These Life Stories

A Love Uprising

Old Partners, New Dances

Bonus track on Japanese CD release:

Honey Bee

The UK album cover is a painting by Horace Panter (The Specials) who also did the cover for their previous excellent  album “To Find The Spirit”.

The album has come out on clear vinyl, black vinyl and CD. Early copies of the album were signed by the band and came with a 4 track bonus CD live in Germany. If there are any signed copies left you can get them here:

Otherwise the album is available from all regular stockists such as Amazon, HMV etc.

September/October sees the band touring the UK and Europe. They’ve got a London date at the Jazz Café on October 17th.  Their previous show at the Jazz Café saw a sellout crowd see a fantastic show. Get your tickets for the upcoming show while you can…..

Blast From The Past

Here’s a link to the band’s promo video for “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life” from their previous album “To Find The Spirit”



The month of May saw the return to London of the Midland’s finest band – the mighty Stone Foundation. Camden’s Jazz Cafe was the venue and London Guitar Academy gig reviewer Paul Wood and LGA’s very own James Stratton were there to see one of the buzzing names at the moment.

stone foundation

stone foundation

The Jazz Cafe date was part of a short European tour by the band which included dates in France, Germany and the Czech Republic as well as the UK.

The band treated the sold out crowd to a set which was a mixture of old favourites and new material from the band’s upcoming album “A Life Unlimited” – nine of the ten new tracks get an airing on the night, and they’re all goodies!

Simon Wells did a short opening set, preceded and followed by tunes spun by DJ Robert Elms (BBC London). You can always tell the quality of the DJ by the songs on offer – and anyone who plays a Eddie Hinton track is clearly on the right musical lines as far as I’m concerned.

By the time Stone Foundation appear the place is packed. First off is the one new track that fans may have already heard – “Beverley” – the song/video of which has already appeared as part of the pre-launch for the new album. The song features in a new film of the same name, produced by Cass Pennant and directed by Alexander Thomas. The film is about a mixed-race girl growing up in Leicester in the 2-Tone era. Here’s a link to the official video:

Next up is cruncher from the “To Find The Spirit” album – “Bring Back The Happiness” – the band move up the gears on this one (and a key change), with the horn section (including new man Adam Stevens) demonstrating why the band are currently one of the best live club attractions in the UK.  Here’s a link to the official video:

Early favourite “No More The Fool” leads the way into a trio of songs from the new album – “Learning The Hard Way”, “Pushing Your Love” (great use of dynamics in this number and a top class vocal from Neil Jones) and “The Night Teller”.

The crowd then get the title track from last year’s “To Find The Spirit” and another new number (“These Life Stories”) before a rather tasty conga intro from Rob Newton leads into the mid set masterpiece of “Don’t Let The Rain” with its excellent bass line from Neil Sheasby, alto sax solo from Gary Rollins and dramatic vocal call/response interaction between the band and audience.

Long time classic “Tracing Paper” (“this one’s for the dancers” shouts out Neil Jones) is followed by a number (the title of which now escapes me) with a keyboard intro from Ian Arnold on his Nord Electro 3. We then get two other newbies (“A Love Uprising” and “Something In The Light”) before the band close the set with the pure drama of “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”.  Here’s a link to the official video:

There’s no way the band are leaving the Jazz Cafe without an encore and Neil Jones initially comes back on stage alone to thank the audience and to ask for a little quiet for the first encore. This will be the closing track (Old Partners, New Dances) from the new album and it features just Gareth John on trumpet and Ian Arnold on keyboards. A brave choice to follow the pure adrenalin rush of  “Life” with a very atmospheric and quiet piece – but it’s conclusion brings a loud cheer from the crowd. If you haven’t heard it yet, the new number has got the same feel of (say) Springsteen’s “Meeting Across The River” from “Born To Run” – a poignant moment amongst the larger than life stories that sit around it.

The full band is back for second encore “Speak Your Piece” but Neil Jones has ditched the guitar and he testifies across the stage like a man possessed. Drummer Phil Ford keeps it all together like the Mighty Max Weinberg and the band close the night in style. Awesome roars greet the finale. Nobody at the Jazz Cafe is going to forget this concert in a hurry. If the band comes anywhere near your town – go see them.

The new album “A Life Unlimited” is available on pre-sale in various formats with bonus tracks from:


Neil Jones – Vocals/Guitar

Neil Sheasby – Bass

Philip Ford – Drums

Ian Arnold – Keyboard

Gary Rollins, Gareth John, and Adam Stevens– Horn section

Rob Newton – Congas, Percussion.



Bring Back The Happiness

No More The Fool

Learning The Hard Way

Pushing Your Love

The Night Teller

To Find The Spirit

These Life Stories

Don’t Let The Rain

Tracing Paper


A Love Uprising

Something In The Light

That’s The Way I Want To Life My Life


Old Partners, New Dances

Speak Your Piece




“To Find The Spirit” is the recently released album from the Midland’s based, seven piece band, Stone Foundation

Check out the band’s official website:

The album has been getting strong reviews since its release on March 10 – making number 1 on the Amazon UK Soul and Funk chart and a highly creditable number 80 in the UK album charts.

Check out the official video (a mini-film shot by Lee Cogswell) for title track “To Find The Spirit”:

The band’s influences are clearly numerous but the best idea of their sound is to imagine a melting pot of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Van Morrison, Mod/Northern Soul and the US guitar/brass deep soul sound of the 60s.

Despite the influences the band has stirred this altogether into its own sound and clearly has its own view on what it is trying to do. The new album has a strong selection of up-tempo and/or strong/catchy numbers but they’re also not afraid to include the jazzy atmospheric “Telepathic Blessing” and a spoken word number “Child Of Wonder” (with guest Paolo Hewitt). Live stomper “Don’t Let The Rain” has a strong bass part which is ably suited to the Dennis Bovell Dub mix on the CD version

Here’s the official video for the first single from the album: “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”

The band has been steadily building up a sizeable live fan base. They’ve previously toured with The Specials and last year they played a mini-tour with Northern Soul legend, Nolan Porter (“Keep On Keepin’ On”, and “If I Could Only be Sure”), including incendiary live shows in Leicester and London.

Here’s a live clip with Nolan Porter and Stone Foundation doing Nolan’s song “Fe Fi Fo Fum”:

The band is super tight, has a good front man/vocalist/guitarist and in their live shows the whole band play their part on stage from a visual perspective. You can see the whole room light up in smiles when the three piece brass section kick ins!

stone foundation 4

stone foundation 4

The band has stepped up a gear in 2014 they’ve already done  a short tour in Japan, played UK support dates with The Selecter, and released the new album.

Here’s live clip of the band playing album track “Hold On”:

Buy the album and catch them live.

Recommended listening for London Guitar Academy students

Check out the classic 60s US soul rhythm guitar and licks from Neil Jones on “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”

Useful facts:

The album cover is a painting by Horace Panter (Specials).

The album is out on vinyl and CD.  The vinyl version comes with a plain (disc only) copy of the CD.  The CD version of the album includes an extra track – the Denis Bovell Dub remix of “Don’t Let The Rain”

Upcoming live dates in the London area include:

4 May – Modfest (Brighton)

17 May – Under The Bridge (Chelsea) (support to The Blow Monkeys)

6 June – Prince Albert (Brighton)

Full track listing:

  1. To Find The Spirit
  2. Bring Back The Happiness
  3. That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life
  4. When You’re In My World
  5. Stronger Than Us
  6. Don’t Let The Rain
  7. Crazy Love
  8. Telepathic Blessing
  9. Hold On

10. Child Of Wonder

11. Wondrous Place

12. Don’t Let The Rain (Denis Bovell Dub Mix) (CD only)

Blast from the Past

Here’s the Nolan Porter 1972 45rpm version of “If I Could Only Be Sure”

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