Houstonian and Mr. Oldies himself, Allen Hill is sending everyone a postcard during these strange times. It is addressed: from happiness, to happiness. Hill released his new single “Beautiful Sounds” on May 12 and is available now for streaming and purchase on all platforms.
Listening to “Beautiful Sounds,” it is immediately clear that Allen’s purpose was to lift spirits. “I know the norm is to make an announcement that this is coming out, but there's so much uncertainty right now,” says Hill.
“What's a good day for the world to get some positive news? Any day is a good day for that but particularly now. Remember there's positive stuff happening now and it's easy in the current context to get mired in the bad stuff, but the song is joyous and it's about the joy of children playing.”
Hill wrote the song months back after taking a walk in Baldwin Park, his favorite spot and inspiration for the track “New Old Friend” from his solo album, All Over The Map. He observed the pure glee and innocence of a group of kids playing and went home thinking about the song.
“I think there's a balance to it, kids don't feel a ton of responsibility right away but the flip side of that is if you're an adult, and there's certainly adult responsibilities, but if you lose the ability to connect, play and have fun, well that is what is beautiful about the world.”
“Beautiful Sounds” carries with it Hill’s natural upbeat energy and most definitely has the rock and roll sound he recently shared when he released All Over The Map. Prior to his solo release, Hill was mainly associated with covering oldies songs and being a backing band member to legendary artists like Archie Bell and Andre Williams.
Hill wrote the song and took it to his usual crew of Houston’s finest musicians, centered about the Continental Club, where he collaborated with them to achieve the rich, five minute rocker. The song ends in a long, three guitar jam.
Hill has never been shy about giving credit to his band mates. “Committee is a bad word, and we are seeing a lot of that in the world and larger institutions but a high functioning team is something that I've been really proud to put together,” he says.
“They are people that I've worked with for a long long time. We all know how we work. That's the difference between a team and a committee, we are working for a common goal of, how great can we make this?”
Hill has the support of Chicago based Pravda Records, one of the city's oldest independent record labels, and the final label that Andre Williams called home. Pravda was started by Hill’s longtime friend Kenn “Skipper” Goodman and Hill says he is always grateful to have the support of a label that does not attempt to change his sound or box him in.
“Skipper was a huge part of Andres resurgence, making that sustainable and cool not just a let's milk it and be done. Andre was constantly creating, Skipper is constantly creating and I think that's a huge part of the glue of the friendships we make through music.”
Hill and his friends are what he calls “lifers in the music industry” and he refers to something he heard the Texas Tyrant of funk Mike Barfield say once as a motto. “He introduced his band as ‘My allies in the battle against boredom’, and that has totally inspired me for many, many years.”
Hill plans to continue to write and release as he sees fit but has no plans for another album at the moment. In true Allen Hill style, he will continue to do what he feels is right and try to shed a little light into people’s lives while pushing them to bust a groove.
“People are sitting around waiting for something and what if this positive surprise shows up? Shake it off, do some dancing and have fun,” advises Hill.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.