Big Boss Man
Last Man On Earth – Album
It’s been four years since we last saw a new release from Big Boss Man (BBM). Happily, it was well worth the wait. Nasser Bouzida, Trev Harding, Scott Milsom and Desmond Rogers have once again shown they are a force to be reckoned with in the studio or live.
While four albums in 15 years are not prolific, (they have had sideline projects in between times) this latest release further enhances Big Boss Man’s reputation. There is no finer example of the saying ‘less is more’. Each LP is top draw and ‘Last Man On Earth’ is a continuation.
Those of you familiar with their work, will know Big Boss Man are all about a hip hybrid of 60s and 70s drenched R&B, funk, Latin, jazz, soul and psych.
Interestingly, BBM include a couple of guest vocalists here. Princess Freesia who takes charge of the title track (an instrumental version is also included) and ‘Painted Rainbow’, while Al Greener assumes the duties on ‘Changing Faces’ and a very fine job they do.
I usually try to pick some highlights for my album reviews, but this is so good, I’m spoilt for choice. Let’s start with the title track and the only single so far, ‘Aardvark’. They happen to be the first two tracks on the album, but they really set the standard for the rest of it.
‘Crimson 6T’s’ rhythm is heavily influenced by Little Walter’s ‘My Babe’, but with the addition of a brass section, it is a slice of gorgeous Hammond R&B.
‘Shot Down’ takes into the realms of psychy, fuzzy groove, while ‘Hail Caesar’ with its Latin overtones is about as cool as it gets.
I do hope the lads do not leave it another four years before they put out their next release. More please.
Beat Street – Album
Not long after I started writing the reviews for Nutsmag, I was handed an album, ep and single by a band from Glasgow called Button Up.
It was the first time I had heard their music and I was impressed by the sound, the writing and the performance, especially Sara Kerr, the lead singer.
I’m happy to say that, even though it has been a while since those releases, Button Up is back with this wonderful new album.
Dripping with danceable beats, stabbing brass and catchy choruses, this is a welcome return by our Scottish friends.
Garry John Kane (with assistance from Sara Kerr on four tracks) has written another raft of quality new songs.
‘Don’t Ask Me To Choose’ is a sumptuous mid-paced soul ballad, ‘I’m Going Home’ barely disguises the blues influences at play, while the band’s interpretation of Miles Kane’s ‘Inhaler’ is first class.
The mighty and funky tribute to Suffragette martyr ‘Emily’ Pankhurst is another fine song. ‘I Can Fall’ is about as close to a pop song as you get on this LP and it is a million times better than any mainstream pop song you may have heard in the past decade.
I’ve sang the praises of singer Sara Kerr before and based on this performance, nothing has changed. She is still one of the finest and most accomplished female singers in the UK.
Shortly after this LP was completed, Sara Kerr announced she was departing to pursue a solo project. I wish her well for the future.
As for Button Up, this album proves once again they are a force to be reckoned with in the soul genre. Long may it continue.
No Town, No Country – Album
This is interesting. A collection of the best tracks from one of Canada’s finest. So to the history lesson; formed in 1980 and based in Winnipeg, the band recorded three EPs before their final gig at Toronto’s El Mocambo club on May 31, 1984.
Fronted by songwriter Colin Bryce, listening through this album comprised of all their studio recordings and some live tracks, it is difficult to figure out why they were not bigger.
They were definitely a band ‘of their time’, attitude a-plenty, with ska, power pop and punky influences. They would not have been out of place alongside the Two-Tone stable, Ian Dury or The Buzzcocks.
With today’s technological advances in communication, I suspect Dub Rifles might have faired a great deal better and certainly would have found a willing audience. As it is, we have to content ourselves with this terrific album and a sense of what might have been.
The title track ‘No Town, No Country’ is a manic rant at the self-appointed old guard of music who try to block new talent and perfectly sets you up for the rest of this collection.
‘Mine’ is a live recording that invokes the spirit of Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers. ‘Number One’ is a quite brilliant saxophone-led ska track that would have graced Two-Tone label.
While Canada’s musical heritage is patchy to say the least, here is a real gem of a band and a fine collection of their best material. It’s just a shame they were not able to make it to the UK at the time. I think they would have been very welcome over here.
Gimme Some Love b/w Blue Eyes – Single
I’m not sure the scene across Europe has been as vibrant as it is now. Great new music is making itself known across the continent and none more so than Spain where Attica Revolution sit very comfortably alongside fellow-countrymen I have praised in previous editions of Nutsmag.
Both sides of this single are catchy slices of brass-laidened soul. They are so good, I played ‘Gimme Your Love’ on the September Nutscast Sessions.
The band themselves come from Gijon, which will be familiar to NUTs members as the home of Euro YeYe.
On this evidence, Attica Revolution will be a band to watch out for in future.
Operation Two Fold
Hold Me b/w On Our Way – Single
When this single came in from Detour Records, looking at the personnel, it looked extremely promising. Karla Milton, Kym Bradshaw, Sara Kerr, Garry John Kane, Armand Thompson and Toby Hounsham.
The songs themselves are really good. ‘Hold Me’ has a nice Northern feel to it and rolls along, complimented by an infectious chorus hook.
‘On Our Way’ is a slower pace, but again a very listenable song. The production and arrangement of both songs are first-class as you would expect from such a talented bunch. Carla Milton’s vocals are spot on with just the right amount of emotion and delivery to do both songs justice.
There is only one improvement I would have suggested. A proper brass section would have given both songs a lift and an authentic sound. The use of a keyboard as a stand-in for the real thing doesn’t do the songs or the performance justice.
Both deserved better. A decision like that can be the difference between brilliant and good. This should have been brilliant.