“Fred Frith being one of those geniuses who pretty much always let his playing do the talking, Gravity being an album that dates back to 1980, but it was deep into the 1990s before I gave it a proper listen. Music that stood the test, no doubt about that. Or more to the point, music that had confidently showed the way to the cool future we were then having. Rock and jazz and folk and all manner of exotic elements all humming along very nicely together, not world music per say, but what the world actually sounded like, with Hands of the Juggler a delirious standout, particularly once it shifts gears around the three-minute point.” (Philip Random)
“John Martyn generally gets defined as a folkie or a singer-songwriter in the history books, but something must’ve got slipped into his tea here (and a few other places), and the universe has forever expanded because of it. Seriously, Outside In (from 1973’s Inside Out) is the kind of zone I could inhabit forever. Endlessly spaced out, yet soulful as well, like nature itself, always in flux, forever mutable, yet working an infinite groove.” (Philip Random)
“I actually turned down a free ticket to see Tower of Power at a small club. It would’ve been about 1978. They probably would’ve played this song. And yeah, it would’ve blown me the f*** away. The towering power of it, and the tightness. What a band! But I was an idiot. I said no. Because I didn’t get funk in those days, or jazz, and how the two could brilliantly fuse. I had it all confused with disco. And I had all kinds of issues with disco. What can I say? I was young and foolish, not remotely hip.” (Philip Random)
“I don’t know why I even put this record on in the first place. I guess I was bored. A friend’s album, plucked more or less randomly from a pile in the mid-1980s sometime. A song title like Good Time Boogie, an album title like Jazz Blues Fusion, John Mayall in general – I was not remotely into this kind of stuff. I guess I could plead alcohol, but I didn’t drink much in those days. It just had to happen, I guess. And it was good. Music that was both grounded in tradition and set loose to explore. And what a groove! Exactly what my soul needed.” (Philip Random)
“If you think you ‘get’ the music of the mid-1980s but you don’t know Tupelo Chain Sex, you’re wrong. The cover of 1984’s Spot the Difference may suggest a hardcore outfit, but it’s not remotely as simple as that. Because what hardcore band includes fiddle (c/o Don Sugarcane Harris) and saxophone in its weaponry, not to mention reggae, jazz and other unbound tendencies? And man, did they kill it live! True, some of the lyrics were rather dumb (the stuff about the Jews roaming around murdering blacks – seriously?). Welcome to 1984, I guess. Passion and rage as big as the world, and about as rational.” (Philip Random)
“Title track from Material‘s first proper album, which was before main man Bill Laswell had played with EVERYONE on planet earth, become a household name (assuming you lived in a cool household). As a friend put it once, it’s jazz without the annoying indulgence, funk without the sleazy silliness. Not that I really felt that way about funk. But I could agree about the jazz. Always nice to hear the egos reigned in, everyone serving the groove … in a chaotic sort of way. And who better to work all that than a bass player.” (Philip Random)
They were the Jazz Crusaders until 1971 at which point they became merely the Crusaders, and less of a straight up jazz outfit, more of a funk driven item. But one thing that didn’t change (and never would) was the rich and prodigious power of the music. That’s How I Feel showed up on their second album as the Crusaders, the perhaps confusingly titled double shot called 1. Nothing confusing at all about how it made things move.
You had to love the cover of Tupelo Chain Sex’s first album, 1984’s Spot the Difference. Little punk kid sporting a Ronald Reagan Adolph Hitler t-shirt, getting pulled two ways at once. But the real treasure was the music. Not just another hardcore band from LA, these guys were brilliantly all over the place. Reggae, dub, ska, jazz, rockabilly, hardcore – everything, with lead off track The Dream (an extrapolation on an old Cab Calloway hit) serving as a whip smart intro to what remains one of the great (mostly) forgotten albums of any era.