Saturday, 25 August 2018

Fat Freddy's Drop ‎– Blackbird (2013)

Style: Dub, Soul-Jazz, Neo Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: The Drop

1.   Blackbird
2.   Russia
3.   Clean The House
4.   Silver And Gold
5.   Bones
6.   Soldier
7.   Never Moving
8.   Mother Mother
9.   Bohannon

Credits: Dallas Tamaira ("Joe Dukie") – vocals, guitar Chris Faiumu ("DJ Fitchie") – percussion, production Toby Laing ("Tony Chang") – trumpet Tehimana Kerr ("Jetlag Johnson") – guitar Iain Gordon ("Dobie Blaze") – keyboards Joe Lindsay ("Hopepa") – trombone, tuba Scott Towers ("Chopper Reedz") – saxophone

Fat Freddy’s Drop don’t rush things with this only their third full length album in 14 years (excluding a pair of live albums). That steady approach is also one of the defining aspects of their sound and their propensity for slowly evolving electronic, soul, dub and funk workouts that equally nurture listener’s limbs and ears. Blackbird is without doubt their most cohesive and rewarding work to date. 
The general mood of Blackbird is a darker one. On the surface all the elements of what makes them so unique are present and utilised but they’ve managed to economise the ebb and flow of the new songs and create a sprawling yet finely tuned record. Opener Blackbird uses its near 10 minutes to blend funk inflected soul with a swinging dub bass line and reverb drenched horn section, sounding very similar to compatriots The Black Seeds and taking them closer to the dance floor than they have for a while. They also approach a pop format in the first official single Clean the House which captures a pulsing, vaguely Motown groove allowing the other instruments, in particular the guitar, to paint some wonderful melodic stabs and phrasings. Bones lightens the album considerably with its breezy Spearhead-ish vibe and feels comparatively inconsequential before the squelchy electronica of Soldier heads back to darker dub territory. The last three tracks all exceed seven minutes with Never Moving in particular mixing up a swirling electro-funk quick-step that finds them stretching out further into EDM. 
Blackbird is a defining example of rhythm-based musical cross pollination that sounds perfectly natural in the hands of Fat Freddy’s Drop; furthering their exploration of structure, nuance and sonic texture with glorious futuristic results.
 Chris Familton / Doubtful Sounds

The Slits ‎– Cut (1979)

Style: New Wave, Dub, Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Island Rcords

A1.   Instant Hit
A2.   So Tough
A3.   Spend, Spend, Spend
A4.   Shoplifting
A5.   FM
B1.   Newtown
B2.   Ping Pong Affair
B3.   Love Und Romance
B4.   Typical Girls
B5.   Adventures Close To Home

Drums – Budgie
Liner Notes – Mark Paytress
Music By– Palmolive, The Slits
Producer – Dennis Bovel
Written-By – Arianne Forster, Paloma Romero, Tessa Politt, Viviane Albertine

Known to the legions of John Peel's listeners as a regular session act who had created an amusingly chaotic punk noise, The Slits are a great example of a band who, having taken a while to actually get a record deal, became something far greater. Cut, their debut, is a startlingly complex and compelling hybrid of punk, dub and pop that thirty years on sounds as fresh and contemporary as ever. So how did the band go from throwaway scenesters to post-punk icons? 
The answers are twofold: Drummer and producer. Originally an all-female crew with Ari Up, Palmolive, Tessa Pollitt and Viv Albertine all springing from the mid-'70s Ladbroke Grove squat clique, by 1977 they'd supportd the Clash on their White Riot tour but lost their drummer Palmolive to the Raincoats. Drafting in former Spitfire Boy, Budgie (he of later Siouxsie and the Banshees fame) they then took their time finding a producer for their debut. Unusually they chose eminent dubmeister Dennis Bovell, who took their feminist radicalism and laissez faire approach and bolted it tto a deeper, spacier reggae vibe. Suddenly Ari Up's vocal resemblance to Larry the Lamb became a charming layer in the chiming rhythmically complex gumbo that they'd now found as their sound. Budgie's spritzy hi-hat and metronomic capabilities allowed the band to spread out and get playful. 
The lyrics are a mutant mix of faux Jamaican jive and 'couldn't-give-a-toss' West Londonisms. On ''Shoplifting'' Ari warns of the approach of the 'Babylon' while then urging us to 'do a runner!'. Consumerism gets another bashing in ''Spend Spend Spend'' while the feminist backlash to punk's boys club ethics came to the fore in ''So Tough'' (about John Lydon and Sid Vicious) and ''Instant Hit'' (about Keith Levene). The album's peak comes with the hilarious ''Typical Girls''. Shifting time signatures with aplomb, it features a lovely tune disguising a bitter attack on sexual stereotypes. 
The whole album straddles the fine line between amateurism and avant garde. Along with its confrontational cover depicting the band as mud-caked amazons it was to prove a template for the true outpourings of post-punk like The Pop Group and the aforementioned Raincoats. At last women really were to be taken seriously…
Chris Jones  / BBC Review