Spirits-lifting funk from the south coast.
David Katz 2012
Students of literature will already be well aware that there is nothing new under the sun in the world of books. In fact, every new publication that hits the shelf can be seen as some reinterpretation of the Bible, yet even the tale of Noah and the flood was a rehash of a sub-plot of the Epic of Gilgamesh, etched in stone on a Mesopotamian hillside hundreds of years before.
Followers of music will note a similar process taking place in the realm of the album, with sounds and styles being perpetually rehashed and recycled, with varying degrees of originality at play.
Brighton-based big band The Impellers have rooted their sound in the heavy soul and funk of the mid-1970s, but sophomore album This Is Not a Drill broadens the palette through other, more diverse influences. The rousing instrumental Pon Lo Afuera casts the band in Afrobeat mode, their forceful horns blazing atop an off-kilter clavinet melody, and the defiant Do What I Wanna Do has an underpinning Latin tinge.
The instrumentals on the album are guaranteed to get ‘em dancing if you put this disc on at a party: Intro is a dirty wah-wah groove; Belly Savalas places honking sax on tantalising breakbeats; and closer Last Orders has a deliciously spongy synth line. There is no doubting the quality of the musicianship here, and the players’ strengths really carry the weight.
For some, lead vocalist Clair Witcher may occasionally fall short of the mark; her channelling of Edwin Starr on Politiks Kills People sounds like a mistake, and Took Me for a Ride devolves into cliché territory. On the other hand, she delivers a witty take of The Ting Tings’ That’s Not My Name with verve, and sounds fully in control on songs like The Knock Knock and Signs of Hope & Happiness. One warms to her style after listening to the album a few times, initial impressions shifting once all the different elements on board are considered.
In short, if originality is something of a core value to you where music is concerned, you may wish these papas had reached for another bag. But if you like your funk down and dirty, catch The J.B.'s every time they come to town and are a fan of Osaka Monaurail, this album is clearly going to lift your spirits.