on 2 July 2008
Whilst this CD is subtitled "Acid Jazz - The Birth of a Scene 87-90" it, in fact, only deals with the birth of the record label of that name. And it is an odd selection of tunes.
It starts, reasonably enough, with Galliano's "Frederick Lies Still", which was the first record released on the label and was a nice summary of what was popular on the scene at the time: Pucho's latin percussion and Marco Nelson's funky bass performing a classic seventies funk number (Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead") with Rob Gallagher's poetry/ "rap" over the top. But some of the other selections seem a little less obvious or, I'm tempted to say, worthwhile. The Brand New Heavies get two tracks allocated: the wonderfully funky "People Get Ready" and "Got to Give" which was much more typical of the bland soul-pop for which they would become famous.
Chris Bangs, a noted DJ on the scene, and later the producer of Galliano's first album also gets two tracks both, as Lay Zee Muthas and the Quiet Boys (with Rob Gallagher again). These are quite "dance" oriented records beat and sample based with little to really fit with the other tracks on the album. Similarly "Killer" by the Night Trains is a nice enough tune but is basically a bit of jamming over a looped groove and does not pack a punch the way their "And Now We have Rhythm" from the seminal "Acid Jazz and Other Illicit Grooves" does. Staying with the loops and "dance" records, A Man Called Adam's "Earthly Powers" is enjoyable dancefloor fare but, again, not hugely exciting.
The CD will, I'm sure be bought by many for "King Truman's" "Like a Gun" another likeable enough tune but not the sort of thing that would set the dancefloor alight or define "the acid jazz sound" (if indeed such a thing was possible). If this record sells for £150 it is proof that it is rarity rather than quality that sets a record's price.
The definitive "Totally Wired" albums on Acid Jazz always included some classic old tracks form the vaults and this tradition is continued with fine tracks from Patrice Rushen and Caeser Frazier. Frazier's "Mighty Mouse" begins a sequence of very fine tracks being followed by the New Jersey Kings (James Taylor Quartet "in disguise") having one of their finest moments, augmented by a full horn section; the fierce saxophone assault of of Bukky Leo's "Rejoice in Righteousness"; Snowboy's latin version of Coltrane's "Mr PC" and finally powerhouse drumming form Steve White.
As a representation of the eclectic, electric, exciting musical scene that led to the coining of the term "Acid Jazz", Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge's "Sunday Afternoons at Dingwall's" compilation is both a far more representative and far more enjoyable. Even for fans of the Acid Jazz record label, their material has been re-compiled and re-packaged so many times that they could probably find something more to their personal liking than this. I can really only see this album being bought by Paul Weller completists wanting to get their hands on that "King Truman" track.