While Australian band The Bamboos seem to have struggled with an album name for this one they have, as usual, had considerably less trouble with the funk. Keen perusers of this site may have noticed the massive big-ups that On The Sly a.k.a. the first single (and also the first track) from this, The Bamboos fourth studio LP, has been getting over the last couple of months. And rightly so, for it is a massive slinky funk beast featuring the band’s secret weapon in the form of sultry vocalist Kylie Auldist who sings on most of the best tracks on 4. On The Sly is the highlight among highlights but also on offer is the gorgeous, moody, loping funk-soul of Ghost, the muscular jazz-funk of Got To Get It Over (by which I was surprised to find myself won over) and King’s Cross – which is apparently not about a dodgy area in London of the same name (or even a dodgy area in Sydney come to that) but a gritty slice of spy-funk. In fact (now a full-time member of The Bamboos’ line-up) Auldist appears on no fewer than seven of twelve tracks and demonstrates equal facility, by turns, across a range of sub-genres which (other than those mentioned above) also include more seventies-influenced numbers like Keep Me In Mind, the early Motown-ish Never Be The Girl and firmly establishes herself as right up there with a certain Sharon Jones. Naturally this means that there are far fewer of the instrumentals that characterised earlier Bamboos LPs – especially when you consider that two of the remaining five on here are also vocal tracks. One of these is a blinder of a mod soul gem featuring King Merc who hails from Tonga and sounds a bit like Paul Weller. The other is a collabo with Quannum Projects luminary Lyrics Born who squanders the perfectly decent funky backing provided by the ‘Boos with a dull virtually one-note ‘melody’ where he moans on about how some chick he fancies hasn’t called him back. I’m not surprised. If it was up to me, I’d have buried this at the back of the album as a ‘special feature’ of a cd release only. All of which shenanigans leaves three instrumentals with the trippy sitar funk of Up On The Hill being far and away the best.
I’ve always thought that the Bamboos’ best tracks have always been ones with vocals – Step It Up, Bring It Home, My Baby’s Cheating and Tears Cried to name but a few. Each release has included at least one classic of modern funk and the vocal element has increased with successive albums – which on the evidence of this continues to be a highly successful manoeuvre as 4 is pretty much what the funky doctor ordered. Just don’t invite Lyrics Born back unless he’s packed a tune eh?
(Released 29 March on Tru Thoughts)
DOWNLOAD LP track Like Tears In Rain FREE HERE