David Holmes' 2002 mix album Come Get It I Got It was created in collaboration with Steve Hilton, who also works as a programmer/composer for Craig Armstrong and David Arnold, and amongst the freaky vinyl and deep soul rediscoveries, featured the pair creating some new linking music under the guise of the Free Association. The decision for the Free Association to become a live act meant expanding the line-up to a core four-piece, with the addition of the Bay Area MC Sean Reveron and the singer Petra Jean Phillipson. A few months later the band spent 10 days in the basement studio at LA's Sunset Marquis with mix engineer Michael Patterson recording this debut album.
Although it originally came out in 2002, it was re-released the following year with the addition of recent single Sugar Man, featuring backing vocals by 61-year old Mexican-American anti-establishment legend Sixto Rodriguez, whose original 1969 version of the song had been the opening track on Come Get It, I Got It. The song was recorded in New York in April 2003 by David Holmes with Rodriguez, who drove in from Detroit especially for the sessions because he didn't want to risk taking his guitar on the plane. It is just one of many weird and wonderful, often unexpected delights to be found here.
The singles (I Wish I Had) A Wooden Heart (newly re-recorded for this edition of the album) and Everybody Knows perfectly demonstrate the Free Association fusion of sounds with a giddy and powerful rush of craziness and rhythms, crackling with energy and topped by bluesy trip-hoppy vocals and madcap rapping. The band memorably performed both songs on Later With Jools Holland in November 2002 and totally ripped the joint, raising the question, where do these amazing singers spring from?
Sean Reveron (now aka Exodus 77), was born in 1969 and grew up in Hollywood, where his mother waitressed at the Whiskey A Go Go. Too young to leave at home, he would be left in the cocktail booth there but would get out to see all the bands. Kicked out of home for awhile at 15 because of his anti-social lifestyle in the local skate parks where he discovered punk, he moved to San Francisco where Drew Bernstein from the band Crucifix became his legal guardian. Rejoining his mother and spending time in Jamaica, he got involved with a dub soundsystem, later moving in with Augustus Pablo and Junior Delgado in Kingston. Still a teenager, he studied African History at UC Berkeley and discovered hip-hop, working over the next years with Tupac Shakur, KRS-1 and Q-Tip. A period away from music in New York ended when he hooked up with the Beta Band, performing with them in London and Glastonbury, and moving to live in London.
Perhaps unexpectedly, Petra Jean Phillipson has a double life as a conservator at St. Paul's Cathedral. Born in Ashford, Kent in 1973, she formed a band when she was eight, and also spent some childhood years in Australia. Hip-hop was an early love and she was also a fan of KRS-1. A year's art foundation course at St. Martin's was followed by an art degree course in Bath where she produced installations and ran a hip hop night there called The Swamp. She was in various "all girl punk funk line ups" singing and playing guitar, and recorded for Fierce Panda. A period of globe-trotting ended for a while in New York, but she returned to London and over the years has provided session vocals for The Beta Band (perhaps encountering Sean at this time?), Martina Topley-Bird, the Mad Professor, Marc Almond, Grand Drive and others. She met David Holmes through Martina Topley-Bird, a close friend who lived near her London home. One day he phoned her out of the blue to invite her to do some vocals in LA with him.
Though unique, the band's sound would not sit unhappily alongside Death In Vegas or even Primal Scream, marrying a nineties ethic with more contemporary soundboard trickery. Pushin' A Broom stands out with Petra Jean contributing a vocal tour-de-force. Throw into the mix some Hitchcockian orchestration and David Lynch darkness and you have some idea of the heady psychedelic punk-funk odyssey in store