Walking through the residential heart of Portland’s Mississippi district you’ll find a charming wooden house under the overcast Oregon sky. This local landmark is the home of soul legend Ural Thomas, built by hand with found materials decades ago. The basement is overflowing with musical equipment. When you walk down into the room you may see Portland’s Soul Brother Number One at the table chuckling, telling stories and jokes, and espousing his humanist philosophy obtained from 83 years of unfathomable experiences. He’s often joined by either his generations of biological posterity or the adopted family that is his band, The Pain.
Though Ural Thomas is widely recognized as one of the most exciting singers remaining from the original soul era, and an active musical institution for over 60 years, his band, all decades younger, are treated as equals. The Pain are no backing band, but rather a well-oiled tightly-knit musical aggregation that’s spent the last eight years with Thomas developing a unique sound of its own.
So few of soul music’s original practitioners are still among us. Even fewer are still active. And of those, even fewer can still deliver the goods on the same level that made your hair stand on end the first time you dropped the needle on their record. Rumor had it that the complete package of undiminished passion, sweat, wailing, dancing, and banter, the elusive soul man we always seek out, could be found tearing it up in the Pacific Northwest.
Ural Thomas and The Pain finally completed their much-anticipated third album, Dancing Dimensions, to be released on June 3, 2023. While exploring everything from sweet Chicago soul to airy West Coast psychedelia to Sly funk, their latest collection retains the distinctive sound the band organically developed over years of relentless work. Classic yet unmistakably contemporary at the same time, Dancing Dimensions is the most accurate representation of The Pain’s unique flavor, power, and musical breadth committed to vinyl thus far.