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I wonder if anyone inside or outside the Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band camp suspected way back sixteen/ seventeen years ago when the first singles came out that this side project of Mighty Mocambos’ Bjorn Wagner would subsequently spawn a multitude of singles and, by now, four studio LPs. But here we very much are with the arrival of number of four, BRSB, named after the band’s initials, and yet another top drawer twelve-track set (I say ‘twelve track’ – the cd contains another 3 dope cuts on top of that) of steel drum funk.

As on previous albums, a sizeable chunk of the content is (in the steel pan tradition) made up of covers and, as of yore, the material the band has chosen to cover has mainly been drawn from the worlds of hip-hop, funk and disco. If you kept abreast of the singles you’ll know that this time around the band have delivered inspired covers of Drake (Hotline Bling), Game & 50 Cent (How We Do), Dre and Snoop (Nuthin But A G Thang), Mura Masa & A$AP Rocky (Love$ick) and the Stranger Things theme along with a steel drum almost-cover of Claudja Barry’s slo-mo disco nugget Love For The Sake Of Love entitled Love For The Sake Of Dub. That’s not quite the end of the covers though and however much you might have dug the above, the album contains previously unreleased stuff that is arguably even better. Another slice of West Coast hip-hop gets a 55-gallon seeing-to with the band doing Tupac’s Got My Mind Made Up and (though criminally, only if you get the cd) Bob James’ Nautilus now squelchier, funkier and grittier. Here’s hoping that makes it onto a post-LP release 45, at least as a B-side. Also on the cd, (though this was previously released on single) you’ll find the band’s version of the Eastern pysch-funk nugget Murkit Gem by label mates El Michels Affair and one more previously unreleased theme cover, this time from 80s Mario Bros platform game clone The Great Giana Sisters which is not to be sniffed at, its origins notwithstanding.

And the original material? Album opener In The Crosshairs, is a crisp head nodder, Treasure Quest is an antsy Afro-funky number with synth-funk touches, the closer with its non-lyric female vocals has something of the cinematic about it and, best of all, there’s the heavyweight dancefloor funk of Grilled featuring two drummers. As previously, the quality of the original stuff is every bit the equal of the covers if not better, even if the ratio of cover to original material tips towards the covers this time. Not for nothing is that last track entitled, Champions’ Walk, it seems.
(Out now on Big Crown)

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