Its passion is matched by the skill and subtlety of the arrangements.
Lloyd Bradley 2010-05-20
Kings Go Forth (the name is borrowed from the title of an ancient Frank Sinatra and Tony Curtis WWII movie) hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin: a blue collar, Midwestern, essentially unglamorous town, best known for its breweries and heavy industry.
Suitably, the group’s approach to vintage soul isn’t afraid of a bit of hard work. They’re not worried about racial or generational boundaries, either – the lead singer is a 60-year-old bluesman; some of the players are barely out of college; and the founder, bass guitarist Andy Noble, has run a thriving rare record store in Milwaukee for years. But it comes together because everybody clearly loves and respects late-1960s/early-1970s funk and soul.
The band arrived in the studio with a solid reputation for live work, and they take that through to an album built on drum patterns muscular enough to drive a full horn section, scratching guitars and a swirling organ. It veers from the controlled, Motown-esque soul of You’re the One and High On Your Love, to the full-blown big band stomp of the Mandrill/Nite-Liters/Con Funk Shun variety with Paradise Lost, Get a Feeling, I Don’t Love You No More and One Day. It’s rousing, noisy rambunctious funk, and its passion is matched by the skill and subtlety of the arrangement – KFG understand perfectly that the best funk sounds so spontaneous because it’s been meticulously put together.
The album’s centrepiece is the six minutes of Don’t Take My Shadow, the sort of gutsy, layered, string-drenched, dancefloor-workin’ groove that Gamble and Huff would have been proud to call their own. No wonder original disco guru Tom Moulton felt sufficiently moved to remix it for the 12” single’s release.
The only disappointment is that the vocals sometimes let things down, as on some songs there isn’t enough personality in them to not get swamped by the might of the music. But they’ve done the hard part and got the overall vibe so spot on that this should be easily remedied in the future.