T BIRD & THE BREAKS: Never Get Out Of This Funk Alive (2011) – Album review

Rating: ★★★★★
Proper funk – where you been you hussy? Mainly hiding out round at T Bird’s place seems to be the answer on the strength of Never Get Out Of This Funk Alive. This is the second full length album from Texan heavy funk and soul outfit T Bird & The Breaks and giant middle finger to all that jazzy noodling that’s been coming out of the contemporary funk scene. What we’ve been missing are dirty, blues-based soul grooves that reek of sex, combined with big-ass breaks. This delivers all of the above in a breath of stank, whiskey-soaked air.

As with first LP Learn About It from two years ago, the band cast their funk-soul net wide drawing inspiration from the roots of the genre whilst, at times, applying old-school hip-hop production aesthetics. You want fat breaks to sample? Check the swampy fatback rhythms of Spread The Love or the bayou groove of Juju Baby. Rare Earth style rock–tinged, funk psychedelia? Try Paranoia For Ya with dope extra vocals from band guitarist Johnny ‘Too Bad’ Allison. Sixties northern soul? That’ll be The Clap Hands Song, a rework of Shirley Ellis classic The Clapping Song on which T Bird shares lead vocals with backing singer Sasha Ortiz whose performance suggests she might want to consider dropping a track of her own. It might shake a few of her contemporaries out of lazy, generic vocal stylistics. The title track travels a more popping, bumping Ohio Players kind of route – and if you still haven’t copped that one and The Clap Hands Song for free get your skates on HERE.

Could it get any more dope? Er – well – yeah it could actually. Opener I Gets My Boogie On is a mighty laid back, gospel groove for starters – and that’s gospel in the sense of sound only by the way – the lyrics are filthier than Beyonce mud-wrestling with Rihanna. This track is one of the best for showcasing Tim ‘T Bird’ Crane’s effortless, whiskey-soaked soul rasp and facility to turn out a classic true school soul vocal which he does time and time again – “I had me a sweet little peach but things went sour/ She was giving away my sauce in the midnight hour,” for example. Chuck in Put It On The Spot – a hot little slice of chicken-scratch funk guaranteed to put the hurt on the dancefloor and Piano Joint – another gospel-tinged number (and breaks-samplers delight) and you’ve got a stone classic end to an excellent LP.

And they’re still not signed. Christ – how long do I have to rep this lot before they finally get their due? This is the hottest new funk to have come out in a long minute. Massive. Don’t sleep. Oh yeah – don’t forget to cop T Bird’s dope solo LP (T Bird Is Good For You) from January HERE for free too…
(Out 12 July)

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