Taking their lead from such rock giants as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Aussie funk-soul-boogie experts drop their fourth album with the unimaginative title, 4; thankfully, the 12 tracks are anything but 4th rate – this is a big one!
Down under’s finest, The Bamboos are back with another album of “their trademark raw funk”. You will recall that they had a track included on the Tru-Thoughts 10th Anniversary compilation (the mighty 3CD set “celebrating 10 years and 200 releases of quality independent music on Tru-Thoughts Recordings”) and that the band share their leader, guitarist and multi-talented Lance Ferguson with the Cookin’ On 3 Burners (they of Baked, Boiled & Fried).
The other band members include Ben Grayson (Hammond), Danny Farrugia (drums), Yuri Pavlinov (bass), Anton Delecca (sax/flute) and Ross Irwin (trumpet) and it’s unfair to say that their sound is ‘raw’ as they are now as “razor sharp” as their suits matching others in the funk/soul/Motown scene like Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Alice Russell and Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators.
Like the above, the album mostly features glorious female vocals in the form of Kylie Auldist who was on the single ‘This Girl‘ (from Baked, Boiled & Fried) and similarly 4 starts with her on the opener (and previous single), ‘On The Sly’.
She sings on seven tracks in total and ‘The Ghost’ is particularly good vocally, lyrically and horn wise and as a fan of London’s Kings Cross (well, Mole Jazz back in the day), it always make me impressed to know that there’s another similar version of Kings Cross in Sydney; this ‘Kings Cross’ is curry house James Bond theme!
One of the benefits of having the Hammond of Grayson on board is that they can slip in some mod flavours and with the horn section, they can do some jazz; and on my favourite track, they can do both and a bit of 60s TV theme on ‘Red Triangle’ . Another impressive instrumental is the psychedelic pastiche of The Beatles, ‘Up On The Hill’ with some indo-mod fusion (talking of Mod-ness, don’t miss out on Mr. Weller’s return with Wake Up The Nation).
And talking of Weller, he’s been known to enjoy a Northern Soul riff and Kylie is back with the mid-tempo talc shaker of ‘Never Be The Girl’ at the start of a bit of a Kylie showcase with ‘Like Tears In Rain’, ‘Keep Me In Mind’ and the big one, ‘Got To Get It Over’.
In contrast to Kylie, there are just a couple of guest singers. King Merc features on ‘You’ Ain’t No Good’ and turnin’ it up is U.S. rapper Lyrics Born (aka Tom Shimura) who we haven’t heard from for a couple of years since Everywhere At Once who actually sings on ‘Turn It Up’ which is yet another highlight.
And have a guess where ‘Typhoon’ is coming from? Yeah, off the jazz-funk horny coast at 100 mph. A fantastic end to 4 that already has fans like Mark Lamarr (Radio 2), Keb Darge (Paul’s mate), Kenny Dope, John Kennedy (XFM) and when he’s not on Corrie, funker Craig Charles.
Could this be the album that takes the Bamboos and Kylie into the mainstream like Led Zeppelin (OK, their album was actually IV or even Untitled) and Black Sabbath (OK theirs was Vol.4) but The Bamboos are coming over to Europe on tour in June so get your soul shoes ready to move to the bamboo beat.
Hectic Mix nominations: ‘Ghost’, ‘On The Sly’, ‘Red Triangle’, ‘Typhoon’, ‘Turn It Up’, ‘Never Be The Girl’, ‘Never Be The Girl’ – more than 50% means it’s all good.
Reviewed: The Bamboos – 4 (Tru-Thoughts) Cat. No. TRUCD210 Release date: 29th March 2010
1 On The Sly feat. Kylie Auldist (3:35)
2 Turn It Up feat Lyrics Born (3:41)
3 You Ain’t No Good feat. King Merc (3:33)
4 Red Triangle (4:16)
5 Kings Cross feat. Kylie Auldist (3:36)
6 The Ghost feat. Kylie Auldist (3:38)
7 Up On The Hill (5:30)
8 Never Be The Girl feat. Kylie Auldist (3:29)
9 Like Tears In Rain feat. Kylie Auldist (3:34)
10 Keep Me In Mind feat. Kylie Auldist (4:16)
11 Got To Get It Over feat. Kylie Auldist (3:26)
12 Typhoon (2:59)