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As a long-time fan of the various musical outpourings of the brilliant Damon Albarn, from Blur to Gorillaz, from Dr Dee to The Good, The Bad & The Queen, I have to admit to a sense of anti-climax after listening to this latest release a dozen times or so. Musically it's as accomplished as you'd expect, and with musicians such as The Red Hot Chilli Pepper's bassist 'Flea', and Soul giant Erykah Badu, there's plenty of quality on board here. The problem for me is the lack of any real variety or intricacy on the album; the bass lines are taut but repetitive, while that old cliche 'they all sound the same', is unerringly resonant after several listens. I have to say that one of the things I've always liked about the records made by Albarn is his distinctive voice, but he only sings on two tracks here.
Rocket Juice and the Moon is a decent mix-tape of funk oriented sessions from some brilliant musicians, however I think it's high time that Albarn stretched himself a little more; surely his genre-hopping of recent years is what's made his musical output so consistently appealing.
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What an interesting album, Damon Albarn moves from the slick production of Gorillaz to to this more minimal approach.
I don’t think I have ever heard ‘Flea’ (Of the Red Hot Chillie peppers) sound so restrained, and Tony Allen’s drumming is pretty minimal.
The music is kind of funky certainly grooves and the vocalists Erykah Badu, Fatoumata Diawara, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, M.anifest, and Cheick Tidiane Seck, are top quality.
Nothing like what I was expecting but still very good.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2012
I'm guessing some people may be anticipating a full-on Damon fest, a-la Gorrilaz or The Good, The Bad and The Queen, and will be extremely disappointed when they hear Rocket Juice... Albarn's role in this is more catalyst and musical director for what has already been pinned accurately as a very loose funk record with a heavy north African, Fela Kuti flavour.
But if you can put aside your expectations, it's actually extremely good. Tony Allen and Flea lock together to create a groove so solid you could set your watch by it, allowing Albarn and his guests the luxury of laying whatever they want over it without worrying about the back beat. For instance On Night Watch and Forward Sweep, which are essentially a series of keyboard washes and tones that go nowhere, in the grand funk tradition they rely on 'feel' rather than melody, but its engaging stuff. None of this bad, but if you're hoping for the winsome pretty melodies that Albarn is known for they're in short supply (indeed, his voice doesn't appear until the middle of album).
Also, a lot of the tracks are relatively short - hence the 18 song count - and feel impressionistic, rather than carefully worked out, a sort of first take "That feels kinda nice, let's keep it" vibe. Also, even where a vocal track does seem to be building up a head of steam ie Follow-Fashion, the song is allowed to stumble to a halt for no good reason, which can be annoying if you're enjoying the number, but also means that nothing here outstays its welcome.
So, perhaps for these reasons, Rocket... can feel a little slight - I guess that's what happens when you're more concerned with capturing a musical moment, rather than trying to meticulously create one - but taken on its own terms, it's a great album.
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on 5 April 2012
You can certainly spot the point at which Damon left the Gorillaz. Just before he made this recording! Don't get me wrong, it is good, but only as an 'extra cd of particular interest to none but the most avid All-branian'. I loved the drumming, but it seems to be a very un-formed album-sound over-all. Too many hyphens, I think. Nice album cover.
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on 9 October 2014
To quote Jimmy from Quadrophenia...

'why don't you just turn over and do a few underwater farts'.
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on 24 July 2015
Brilliant album love it
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