Music history records any number of predecessors to Fried: white male British musicians who've linked up with a black female singer, with the aim of beefing up otherwise nondescript music. Working Week, M People and the Brand New Heavies have all been there, and Fried sound as if they should have occupied that same circa-1990 patch of air-space. They're the brainchild of ex-Fine Young Cannibal David Steele, who wanted his latest project to be fronted by "the new Aretha Franklin", no less; he got the perfectly decent Jonte Short, a New Orleans ex-gospel singer who adds the requisite soulful fillip but can't work the miracle the songs require. Maybe that's a bit harsh - after all, you can't hate an album that includes a grubby, completely wrong thing called When You Get Out of Jail. But you can certainly wish the rest of it wasn't weighed down with tuneless mid-range funking.
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian