Reviews – September 2005

The Peas ‘Getting Some’/’Crazy Walk’ (Malo)

You record-making folks out there have been jolly good to us this month with lots of vinyl matter for gratis, and chief amongst y’awl has to be the wondrous Brother Lee, here under the guise of The Peas, with this super-duper-funky-few-minutes of a 45. Allow me to lapse into the vernacular for a moment and express the fact the ‘I’m really feeling this’ – as in enjoying it a significant amount, not pressing it against my silken cheek, you understand. Here’s a phrase for you; ‘special needs Meters’. Not one that I can lay claim to, but that just about says it, and if that special need you have is a tight as a gnat’s chuff Hammond & guitar carve up, then eyes down to find a copy. The lead track kicks off like Sergeant Pepper’s played on a Danelectro and them smoothes into a righteous groove that’s crisp and clear – lead all the way by a sharp and shrill riff backed by that patented Meters damped geetar picking that comes over so corn-fed it could have been reared by Bernard Matthews. There’s more gumbo stylings over on the flip with the slower paced, but nicely pleasing ‘Crazy Walk’ that has a feel of Harry Nilsson’s ‘Coconut’ about it. Some more of that snazzy guitar (I’m thinking Credence Clearwater Revival now), and lashings of Hammond help the track to meander along very nicely to complete what is a very welcome and pleasing 45 indeed.

To get yer mitts on one of these send a cheque for £5 (payable to Lee Skelly) to Brother Lee himself:

The Peas
35 Lancaster Mews
W2 3QF

Or drop him a line on

The Mike Lee Sound ‘Mike’s Bag’ (Dime)

I understand that this album has been out for a while, but I missed it, which I suppose means either I’ve completely lost touch with ‘the kids’, as I fear daily, or that you might have missed it too, dear reader. Anyway, more goodness from our friend Brother Lee and his mate Mike Stuart and their full time band. Now, if you’re like me and spend your time listening to cheesy retro sounds and often wonder why, oh why don’t youngsters out there form bands that play this type of thing anymore… well, they do, and here’s the evidence (but the youth of the culprits I cannot vouch for, as they are all extremely well skilled players on this offering). Let’s throw down some musical touchstones just for the hell of it shall we; KPM grooves, Santana axe solos, Jason Lindh flute, Hawkshaw Hammond – these guys have got the measure of it alright, and that’s not the end of it. I’ll sound like a wine taster, but I’m getting hints of the Fourth Dimension BBC LP and I am liking it very much sir! Put it this way, if the Sean Lee Ping Pong Orchestra bangs your clanger, then scurry along now and have a dabble with this, as this album covers a similarly wide array of bases, all of which are well within the boundaries of rather excellent record buying taste. Go discover while it’s still in the shops – or indeed I’m sure you can get one from Brother Lee at the address above.

The Mike Lee Sound ‘Spread It Around’/’Monkey Man’ (Dime)

I am indeed engulfed by faux-retro sounds to sooth my lug-holes, as here we have a fine 45 issued to accompany the above album. Its lovely – all dolled up to look like a vintage CBS orange label release, the lead track is a fly-ass pimp-tastic groove, heavy on the wah-wah and resplendent of Fender-Rhodes. For some reason as I am listening to it now, the track has made me come over all ‘Exile On Main Street’ as the parping sax begins to wash over me. Actually, I should have mentioned above that as the album spreads out the saxophone athletics become a key component of the sound, and it’s very much in that Bobby Keys style, rather than any lame-ass Grover Washington nonsense. Most pleasing. Over on the flip, ‘Monkey Man’ is a jerky wah groove with some Moody’s Mellotron, nice flute and rampant axe that stretches off into an Eddie Hazel ‘Maggot Brain’ solo that your mother would be proud of. Look, seriously, this is super stuff and it’s amazing to find that some fine fellows out there are touching all of your favourite musical reference points in a new way. Go buy!

Ambulance ‘Witchi Tai To’ (Sea Records)

Apparently, everyone from Mark Wirtz to Lauren Laverne has been bigging up Liverpool’s best kept secret recently. Airtime from John Peel offers its very own stamp of approval and the hacks have been rightly encouraging on the strength of Ambulance’s latest 12″ from Sea Records, run by official ‘friend of VV’ Jim Cassius. Top banana of Jim to send this one through, as although I have confess to being a little ambivalent to the lead track – a sparse cover of the famous pop hit with more than a nod to the Pixies ‘Wave of Mutilation’ (Surf version) – go check it out – it’s true! Anyway, like I was saying, that’s all well and good, but in my mind that track completely dissolves into insignificance compared by the sheer attack of the ‘stormtroopers advance on the alien hoards to the sound of The Butthole Surfers’ sci-fi sludge-fest of ‘Over and Out’. This is indeed my bag! Minutes of Luftwaffe basslines and feedback that you could fry eggs on – this is what they want! Well, it’s what I want anyway, and the world would be a stranger and better place if this track got played by mistake on the Radio 1 breakfast show. Proof indeed that mind-expanding drugs are still rife in Liverpool. Good.

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Gumbo Ya Ya ‘Life In The Making’ (Humble Monkey)

All you folks down there in That London must get to go to record launch parties every other night of the week, but not up here in the wilds of the North East, so ligging out at the recent Humble Monkey ‘do’ was something of a red letter day for the diary, and tons more power to my man James Tarn’s elbow for having the sheer balls to make shit happen up here – truly the last place on earth that you’d expect Hip-Hop grooves to emanate from. Being my usual contrary self, with this 12″ I actually prefer the tit-bits rather than the main course, but rapid-fire rapper DPF leads the way on ‘Lastone-twothewaterhole’, which features a highly inventive wobble-board sort of groove and something akin to a sing-along chorus that does indeed make the track riotously catchy – check out the instro take and compare – it really sticks in your head. Now, this is a record of many parts, so we’re then off into the ‘Brit-jazz meets The Sweeney in the Cornmill Centre for a headspin’ vibes of ‘Little Penny’s Woes’. My favourite of the bunch. On to the other side of the platter, there’s more featuring DPF, with the truly frightening ‘Balaclavaman’. Getting mugged on the way back from the off-licence in Newton Aycliffe is every bit as scary as a drive-by in South Central, brother. Word. Time to lift the mood with some skankin’ then; ‘If You Didn’t Love’ serves to raise the spirits up to Ja with a few blissful minutes of deepest dub and also showcases another huge bucketful drawn from the well of righteous influences on which we can quench our aural thirsts. This is the first fruits from a very brave and worthy venture, so you should check it out at the earliest opportunity. It’s very good.
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Jumbonics ‘Super Baxaphone’ (Tru Thoughts)

After releasing just one EP on splendid UK beat label Tru Thoughts, Jumbonics now return with their first long player. Overall, it is a mixture of new and old, combining dusty old beats and jazzy loops with some fresh, original instrumentation – played on both new and old instruments. There’s quite a distinctive, sometimes off-the-wall (and occasionally quite cheeky!) organ sound on most of the 15 tracks, generated by the Jem Jumbo Organ, a vintage Italian 1960’s keyboard from which the group take their name. Picking a few tracks to mention, the opening “Bubble Drop” and “Doing Time” sound like a collaboration between Jean Jacques Perrey and Wagon Christ in which dueling keyboards fight for wibble supremacy over tight electronic drumbeats. As the album progresses through tracks like “Soft Centre” and “Jezebel” we start to see the jazzier side of Jumbonics with the clever use of Blue Note style hip hop breaks and lazy jazz piano loops. But, before the Jazz Club-esque chin-scratching and posing becomes too serious, we are reminded of the lighter side of their music by the use of squiggly analogue basslines, cheeky organ riffs and space effects – my personal fave track “Jezebel” being the finest example of how all of these sounds come together so well. All in all, a good debut album that does what every good album should do – and not take itself too seriously.