A set of very loose and very odd funk from bass master Flea and some famous friends.
John Doran 2012
To enjoy this excellent album, it probably helps to bear certain things in mind. First, you should be aware that this is a funk album. A very odd funk album, but a funk album nonetheless. If you do not like funk, there is every chance you will not enjoy it. This may seem like an obvious thing to point out, but several early reviews of this 18-track gem have been written by the self-diagnosed funk-phobic who then go on to register their surprise that they have not really connected with it. But given that the rhythm section of the group includes arguably the world’s funkiest drummer (Tony Allen) and its most famous white funk bassist currently applying a bony thumb to a fretless instrument (Flea), it’s hard to take these lukewarm reviews seriously.
Second, this is a jam album, and if you’re averse to looseness then this just isn’t going to cut it. This collection of synth funk, neo-Afrobeat, highlife, organic hip hop and nu-soul jams is hellishly loose. How loose is it? In a final fit of total looseness, the band simply sent off a bunch of recordings to their record label and left it to the sleeve designer to give them and the album a name.
RJ&TM may also feature Damon Albarn as a core member, but his job here is not singing Kinks-inspired vignettes about pigeon fanciers called Bert who live in Surbiton in a Mockney accent. Instead, he’s teasing a refreshingly unhinged wall of fizzing and bleeping sound out of an array of analogue synthesizers. To be fair, he does sing on a couple of tracks, most notably Poison, which is reminiscent of one of Blur’s all-too-uncommon, introspective, sincere ballads. Vocal duties elsewhere are shared among an impressive international cast of singers and rappers, including the mesmeric Erykah Badu who, along with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, makes Hey, Shooter so memorable.
Put simply, this album is too stone-to-the-bone for dilettantes or debutantes – but for those wanting a herbalised oddity that tips its scruffy, psychedelic cap to Fela Kuti, William Onyeabor, the Ohio Players, Fred Wesley, Augustus Pablo, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Bootsy Collins, this album is a genuinely enjoyable find.