With remixes of ‘She Fish’ and ‘Right On Up (For Love)’, the Main Stem are big at Lip Service so it’s no surprise that after the Contortion Danse 12″ of a couple of months ago we get an album that finds thier Electric Church is having a post disco nu-house soft rock revival!
The Main Stem (aka Benny Upsetter, Rob J and Tim Silver) have a list of influences that include Arthur Russell, Sir Billy Wright, Can, The Isley Brothers, Brothers Johnson, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Francois K, Bob Moog, Bob Hoskins, Bob Carolgees, Cerrone, Steve Bull, Larry Levan, Danny Krivit, Adidas, Nuphonic, Manchester, Monkey, Stevie Wonder, Hunter S.Thompson to name just a few and after a 10 year jestation period, Electric Church is the distilled danceable 13-track form.
On first listen, there’s a two way split going on; the tracks that feature the voice of The Main Stem, Mr. James Flanagan vs. the instrumentals.
Flanagan’s contributions verge on the rock end like when DJ Shadow called up Stateless’ Chris James for The Outsider album. Smatterings of chuggy Clash-esque guitars and disco snyths on ‘Contortion Danse’ could be stem cell experiments from the bizarre Rod Stewart/Rolling Stones disco-rock period (but done better than either of those monoliths’ efforts) whilst the best track for me lyrically is ‘Get Redeemed’.
The instrumentals can cover anything from K’d up dub version of ‘Yes, Sacrifice’ of ’Kountry Klubb’ with Afro-chant house or the synthed out horn boogie reggae of ‘Cafe Margarit’ (on this one, you can almost hear Arthur Russell nodding approval from up above).
For funky moves there’s some heavy bass bomb of ‘Missing Casket’ (that could have been mixed into the post-Prince-ish ‘Big Bullets’), the 70s inspired space synth’n'percussion heavy ’Pleasure Island’ (oh er, Barry) or for some rockabilly batucada try ‘Bomma Jack-it’ and another instrumental reggae hybrid oddity ’Blues Arp’.
Whilst the tracks are quite diverse, this is an album that would appeal to most open minds and it has already gained support of some of our favourite electric desciples of the DJ booth such as Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Bill Brewster, Red Rack’Em, Gerd Jansen, Horse Meat Disco, Mudd and the Mungolian Jetset.
We’ve always had a soft spot for Chicken Lips and thier work on the dance floor so when the Credit Crunch was starting, I couln’t be the only one to be surprised at the news they were going to set up the Lip Service label a couple of years. And as they were one of the labels hit by the recent riot warehouse fire (as in Save our favourite labels) there’s even more reason to get down to the Electric Church for a quick service and support this release and redeem yourself.
Hectic Mix nominations: Cafe Margarit, Kountry Klubb, Pleasure Island, Blues Arp (at least).
Reviewed: The Main Stem – Electric Church (Lip Service) Cat. No. LPS013 Release date: 14th November 2011
1 Electric Church (2:18)
2 Cafe Margarit (7:25)
3 Yes, Sacrifice! (5:50)
4 Kountry Klubb (5:06)
5 Contortion Danse (6:18)
6 Pleasure Island (6:17)
7 Bomma Jack-it (4:12)
8 Electric Fan (2:33)
9 Blues Arp (4:31)
10 Get Redeemed (3:44)
11 Missing Casket (3:52)
12 Big Bullets (5:40)
13 Stone Cold Freak (3:48)