“What We Got Together” – Brother Strut
No, seriously, is there really anything better than a bunch of stonkingly good musicians at the top of their game just doing what they do best; playing the tunes they want to play and having a great time as well? They’re just doing their own thing; no label affiliation and everything controlled from Strut Central, so how do they do it? It’s easy; they are the absolute mutt’s nuts. Individually, they’ve worked with just about everyone, live or on record, and, as a unit, they’re funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter.
The unusual suspects forming Brother Strut are Paul Turner (bass), Frankie Tontoh (drums), Otha Smith (guitar), Sam Tanner (vocals and keys) and Stevie Jones (sax and vocals). I’m not going to tell you what they’ve all done in the past; you can find that out for yourself, and this is about what they’re doing now. And that’s releasing their second album, “What We got Together”, this week (Friday April 8th) on their own label.
The album’s a joyous mix of all of their sixties and seventies funk, soul and r’n’b (when that actually meant rhythm and blues) influences and there are even some Latin beats thrown in as well. When the opening track “Chri$$ie” fires in like the Average White Band covering “Funkin’ for Jamaica” you just know this is going to be an interesting ride.
The album’s not big on songs, as such, focusing more on gargantuan grooves with full-band chants in classic funk style, but when the songs do come along they’re belters, with Sam Tanner proving that he’s not just a stunning keyboard player; he has a superb soul voice as well. “Everyday Joe”, with its seventies wah-wah guitar and story of a refusal to fit in with the nine-to-five, and the lovely “Song for Marvin” (and we’re talking Gaye not Hagler here) are as good as anything I’ve heard this year.
The musicianship’s so strong that changes of style present no problem; the Latin-inflected “De Donde Eres” and “Love and Only” are totally natural and convincing with some great percussion adding authentic accents. The ensemble playing is tight as everyone locks on to the funk grooves, while the fills and solos are outstanding examples of musicianship that don’t sound like a ‘most-notes-to-the-bar’ competition.
This is one that’s going to hit you right on the funky bone; don’t miss it.
And just as a special treat, have a look at this as well: