Saturday, April 28, 2007

 

The Best Kept Secret In The World?

I don't know about you but I can always remember reading in the music press about classic albums or artists, such as Big Star, that back in their day never sold enough copies to pay the bus ticket back home, now I will be the first to say that sales do not necessarily equate to quality, though it did often get me scratching my head and wondering why these classics failed to grab the attention of the masses. I guess part of the reason is that these artists are often what we might call critics bands or maybe even musician's musicians. Today's chosen gang are quite possibly the best band in the whole world, proof of their esteem amongst their colleagues is that when the worlds greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band needed a bassist to replace Bill Wyman they looked no further than Doug Wimbish. The nucleus of Wimbish along with drummer Keith LeBlanc and guitarist Skip McDonald began playing together in NYC at the beginning of the 70's and a decade latter they had become the house band at Rap pioneering label Sugarhill Records. As such they were the musicians that performed on such influential songs as 'White Lines' and 'The Message'. This was followed by a brief spell at Tommy Boy Records before a chance meeting with Adrian Sherwood led to them relocating to the UK. Here they once again assumed the role of house band this time for Sherwood's highly influential On U Sound label where dub and studio wizardry was pushed to the limits to good effect. it was while here that our trio formed Tackhead with the addition of vocalist Bernard Fowler. Their 1989 debut album 'Friendly As A Hand Grenade' has stood the test of time with it's proficient playing doing nothing to detract from the feeling of these funk/dance/rock crossover tunes as can be heard on 'Airborn Ranger'. They continued working with On U Sound artists and formed a special relationship with ex Pop Group vocalist Gary Clail. The slightly less rewarding 'Strange Things' was released in 1990. The early 1990's saw guitarist McDonald recruit the talents of his fellow journey men for his new project Little Axe. It would appear that his manifesto here was to put a new take on that original black American form of music, the blues. Mission accomplished, with the aid of Sherwood behind the mixing desk they mixed the fore mentioned blues with gospel, rock, reggae and funk to come up with the critically acclaimed 'The House That Wolf Built', 1994 and 'Slow Fuse', 1996. As a band the project was put on hold until 2002 when they hit back hard with 'Hard Grind' on blues revival label Fat Possom, maybe this rebirth was due to renewed interest in the blues thanks to the likes of The White Stripes, still their return was more than welcome. The band have now found a home on Peter Gabriel's Real World, it's nice to see those Genesis royalties going to good use, and delivered the goods again last year with 'Stone Cold Ohio', their fifth album to date. It has been genuinely difficult to choose a track from this album as the bar has really been set that high in terms of quality, I've gone for 'Same People' which is a fine spirited cover of an Alen Toussaint song where they manage with so much class and feeling to put the voodoo back into New Orleans swamp music.

Comments:
Great post! Not only did the Stones snag Doug Wimbish, but Bernard Fowler sings backup during their concerts (and he was the singer on Charlie Watts' jazz albums).
 
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