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G. Love & Special Sauce Superhero Brother Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Superhero Brother is nowhere near as sussed nor as righteous as it would like to be.

Louis Pattison 2008

Sixteen years and ten albums old, Philadelphia's G. Love & Special Sauce are festival mainstays over in the US, winning fans amongst crowds who like their music technically proficient, heavy in 'good vibes', and pleasant to listen to while under the influence of a marijuana cigarette. The jam band aesthetic never really grabbed audiences on this side of the pond, though, and unless you're one of the few Brits that really got the Grateful Dead or their myriad unwashed followers, it's probable that the appeal of Superhero Brother will elude you.

Mostly, it’s funky rap-rock that's going nowhere fast, fleshed out with bongos, wailing blues harp, and limp keyboards; think the Red Hot Chili Peppers so laid-back they're practically horizontal, or the good vibrations of Daisy Age hip-hop shorn of rap's lyrical complexity or sense of social commentary. Instead, Superhero Brother finds Gareth ‘G. Love’ Dutton doling out big spoonfuls of hippy-happy positivity that, despite the laudable good intentions, typically manifest in the form of toe-curlingly trite soundbites: the honking, harmonica-heavy rap number Wiggle Worm builds to a chant of: ''Say peace in the middle east!/ Peace in the middle east!'', while the title track, with no discernable irony, finds G. Love playing the role of hippy superhero, singing: ''We could make coffee tables outta all these bombs/And save the whales too…''.

There are fleeting moments of cool - take Who's Got The Weed, a bong-hitting anthem reminiscent in places of Beck or the lounge jams of G. Love's Brushfire labelmates, Money Mark. For the most part, though, Superhero Brother is nowhere near as sussed nor as righteous as it would like to be, a gumbo of hip-hop, blues and vintage soul that somehow tastes blander than any of its individual ingredients.

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