...whatever they produce has always been executed with admirable levels of wit,...
Adam Webb 2005-06-15
Despite the geezer-like spoken-word intro ('London is there for the taking. A rich city: food, women, gold...') Take London resists the temptation to degenerate into some Guy Ritchie musical fantasy. Instead it emerges as a worthy successor to Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Herbaliser's classic brit-hop statement of 2002.
The album is split 50/50 between the sort of souped-up cinematic instrumentals that would have got labelled Acid Jazz a decade ago and tracksfeaturing a succession of top quality vocalists, making this is a tailor-made album for cruising over Waterloo Bridge at midnight. Preferably in a blacked-out mini with a Union Jack painted on the roof.
That said, it's not that the duo of Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba are about to do anything particularly original. Their blend of jazz, funk and beats has made little progression in a decade; but whatever they produce has always been executed with admirable levels of wit, panache and style.
Such traits are evident throughout Take London. "Nah'mean Nah'm Sayin' " might read like Mickey Pierce jamming with Chas & Dave, but actually features the talents of rising US star Jean Grae (the rapper formerly knows as What What). She does cockney pretty well, incidentally. Meanwhile, closing track "Serge" is a soundalike tribute to France's most famous advocate of the Gitane. Well, London is an international city these days...
Grae appears on three other cuts, but better still are contributions from Nottingham-based rapper Cappo ("Failures No Option") and a typically show stealing turn from Roots Manuva on "Lord, Lord". Still the most identifiable voice in UK hip hop, Manuva's skanking tale of temptation and regret is worth the price admission price alone.
Occasionally the instrumentals stray a mite close to JTQ territory, but the eight-minute "Sonofanothamutha" is epically inventive, while "Song For Mary" bops like MoWax did in 1996. This is probably what Wherry and Teeber do best. Concise and funky, slinking and swinging - you could believe Cool Britannia had risen again.