Listening to Press On, you’d be forgiven for believing it was recorded by a tight funk band carrying a torch for the classic 70′s tradition. Lack of Afro actually is whiteboy Adam Gibbons, a producer and multi-instrumentalist one man band, hence the in-joke alias. He builds his tracks around samples of old soul bands, adding his own funky drums, guitar and horns to the mix. There’s a dash of RJD2, a hint of Quantic, and more than just a sprinkling of DJ Shadow to the stew, but the music is differentiated by Adam’s percussive hard funk sound which is catchy as hell. ”The Outsider” samples the legendary James Brown and is driven by soaring horns. “Rusty” features an awesome drum beat and samples Flava Flav. The uber-happy “Touch My Soul” never fails to raise a smile, while “Pure Filth”, driven by dirty, funky guitar bypasses your brain and goes straight for your feet. The album is topped off with an incendiary instrumental reworking of The Arctic Monkeys’ “When The Sun Goes Down”, with added flute! One of the most dance floor friendly albums of the modern funk scene, highly recommended.
The Daktaris are a fantastic afrobeat band I discovered through last.fm. Their only album, Soul Explosion, was recorded in 1998, but packaged to resemble a long lost afrobeat gem from the 70′s. ‘Eltsuhg Ibal Lasiti’ gives the game away: backwards it reads ‘It is all a big hustle’. The band were actually The Soul Providers, the Desco label’s house band, who had assumed Nigerian aliases for the ruse. The quality of the music shines above all this tomfoolery: trance-inducing rhythms, chanted vocals and really, really funky guitar. The band are tight, the percussion is excellent, and what really comes across is simply the sound of a band having fun in the studio. The joke authenticity of the cover and band name is understandable; this music could have easily come from Fela’s land and time. Several members of the band went on to form the superb Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, who are also well worth checking out.
Over the years the brilliantly named Haggis Horns have played with Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, Nightmares On Wax, Estelle and Corinne Bailey Rae, but are back now with their own funky-as-hell second album, Keep On Movin’ , chock full of their trademark brass stabs over fatback grooves and drum breaks. As with their debut the album is mostly instrumental, although Nia Saw provides soulful vocals for the slower tracks. Bizarrely, Snarf from The Thundercats is sampled on The Snarf Dance (well, why not!?) and there isn’t a single track you can’t get down to on the dance floor, which is high acclaim in my book!
Live at the Birmingham Academy 3, Friday 30th July 2010
Taking my girlfriend to see Jah Wobble was always a risk, as she hates reggae and I’d forgotten to explain exactly what dub is! As we settled down for the gig to begin, the venue slowly filled up with an incongruous mix of old punks, skin heads and students. Keiko Kitamura and Clive Bell, both members of the Nippon Dub Ensemble, filled the support slot with Japanese chamber music. It was a pleasant enough start but my girlfriend’s face said it all: what have you dragged me along to!?
Jah Wobble announced his presence with a cavernous bass solo, joined shortly after by the little powerhouse Joji Hirota on the Taiko drums. The rest of the band took to the stage and commenced to knock out great versions of several tracks from the recent Japanese Dub album, including a chest shattering bass-driven version of my favourite track, “Cherry Blossom Of My Youth”. Despite having a sense of fashion that can only be described as the (not) cool granddad, flutist Clive Bell clearly loves his music and relished every second he was on stage.
I was expecting most of the set to be taken from the Japanese Dub album, so was pleasantly surprised when after the first few songs the band settled down to play lots of dub reggae, including awesome covers of “You Don’t Love Me” by Dawn Penn and “Uptown Top Ranking” by Althea & Donna, which really got the crowd skanking. Jah Wobble whipped his top off to play the second half of the gig bare-chested, which included a fantastic version of his biggest hit “Visions of You”.
Several times Jah pithily put down a drunken skin head who was screaming throughout the gig, thinking he was being appreciative but actually just heckling. “You look like that pub land lord bloke…” Despite being signalled by the Academy staff to stop for the absurd 10 o’clock curfew, the band closed with an instrumental cover of ‘Poptones’ after Jah noticed a fan’s PiL T-shirt … and by the end even my girlfriend was converted, smiling and tapping her feet!