Following a brace of single releases earlier in the summer, instrumental soul outfit Ikebe Shakedown finally drop their fourth studio long-player, Kings Left Behind. If anyone’s lagging though, it’s not the Ikebe crew, for despite the fact that the band’s musical territory is packed to the gills with the talent of similarly NYC-based fellow travellers Budos Band and Menahan Street Band, this is a strong set. Then again perhaps that’s the point and the title is an Ozymandias-type brag inviting even the mighty to look upon the latest Shakedown opus and despair.
At only ten tracks long, Kings Left Behind is a smidgin shorter than its immediate predecessor The Way Home and the same length as their first two LPs. Arguably the key difference is the sound which betrays very little of the afro-influences that have occasionally surfaced in earlier material and ups the spaghetti western and psychedelic quotients in ways that certainly won’t disappoint. The pounding cinematic soul of first single Unqualified gave an early hint as to the treats in store while the evocative desert-wind and mournful Mexican horns and guitars of the follow-up, Horses, gave another and did an excellent job of supplying the backing to a scene in an as-yet-unmade Tarantino western. The soundtrack vibe is, of course, very much part of what the Ikebe crew do and there is more than a nod to westerns elsewhere such as opener Not Another Drop (Morricone melodies over funky boom-bap), Hammer Into Anvil (a horseback chase theme if you’ve ever heard one) and the conga-tastic monkey favourite No Going Back. The cinema influence is a little more blaxploitation on Over My Head and the title track however, while two tracks manage to combine both elements – The Witness (which also bungs in some very Santana-esque guitar) and Mary’s Corner – which sounds like something RZA would have been all over like a rash in the 90s. Kings left behind? Kings out in front, more like.
(Out now on Colemine Records)