Hands up if you remember Shakatak and great dance
tracks like 'Down on the Street'. Hands up if you read that and
thought "I wonder what ever happened to Shakatak..."
What happened to Shakatak is that they have continued to tour and to
release their own brand of British jazz-funk. Check out their website
to see what you missed...
One of the cornerstones of the Shakatak sound was - and still is - the
solid bass sound of George Anderson. I'm lucky enough to have a promo
of George's second solo record 'Expressions' and I'm doubly excited
that my CDR was burned on the computer that was used to master the
album. Hot off the press or what? Enough chat - let's get to the
A spoken Intro leads into the deeply groovy Back in the Day
pts 1&2. Pts 1&2 - now I'm already back in the day thinking of old
Isleys records while this mid-tempo dancer with a funky bassline, some
truly lovely keyboard work and very appealing background vocals from
Debby Bracknell has me nodding my head. Throw in some blazing sax, a
sweet guitar solo and some handclaps and you have a modern disco-funk
gem. Debby gets a chance to deliver a sexier vocal performance on the
mellow Moment Away. The chord sequence on this song is haunting
and as the song fades, I'm finding I want to hear more.
The highly danceable Into U features the smoky lead vocal of
Fil Straughan. Luther and Will Downing fans (that's all of us then,
right?) are going to lap this up. Anderson's bass keeps us rolling
along in a hypnotic groove and if you're lucky enough to hear this
live soon - well, you have a treat in store, especially if there is a
sax solo as good as this one. Mr G is a tribute to Anderson's
late father and sees George in altogether jazzier territory. The drums
are in the pocket and there's a steel pan sound that lovers of Andy
Narell or - let's go there - The Breakfast Band will really
appreciate. The groove hardens up midway and that bass starts to
double the sax line - it's serious!
I'd like to stop and talk about the bass. For me, this album makes a
link between the 80's heyday of British jazz-funk and the more urban
sound of soul in 2012. I love that George extensively plays a JD (Jaydee)
bass and those basses became massively popular in the mid-80's due to
Mark King. It all makes sense...
Back to this great album - High and Mighty Love is another
writing collaboration between Anderson and Debby Bracknell. I
mentioned today's urban soul sound and It's About Time has it
in spades. The deep bass, chugging rhythm and spot-on keys really
deliver. The layered female background vocals are nicely old-school.
To quote a phrase I like to use a lot, "it's got loads!"
Closer is an elegant ballad with a nice jazz tinge to it. Matt
Selby's soprano sax is sweet, sweet, sweet. The bass does the bare
minimum - and it's very effective. The drum programming is so good,
you forget it's not a live drummer. Thank you George for the lovely
fingerstyle solo - lots of chorus pedal and very atmospheric. By the
fade, I'm in a sort of Ronnie Laws heaven - I think this is going to
become a classic! The best urban music really gets under your skin -
and Weakness does just that. Take the deep groove for granted
and just enjoy some sexy keys and Debby's breathy vocal. The synth
solo sounds more like George Duke than George Duke. This is the radio
hit for my money. I think this is my favourite song. Rewind!!
OK, I've made lots of comparisons to help you understand how classy
this record is - and I'm not stopping yet. The intro to the bright,
jazzy Latin Love (Amor Latino) has a hi-tech sound reminiscent
of Casiopea. Don't know about you - for me, that's good. Are these
drums really programmed? I'm stunned. Good God, I could write a review
just of this song - there's such a lot to listen out for. Dazzling!
Back on the dancefloor for the bouncy and uplifting Wanna Make U
Mine. Here I'm tuning into percussion, which just adds that nice
little edge to an already head-nodding groove. The intensity builds
towards the end of this great, great dancer. Rewind (again)!! The pace
has to drop after that and I love the deep bass and fingerpops on the
Jill Scott-flavoured opening to Inside 'Ur' Love. Debby
Bracknell does a great job on this track and it's a great production.
Hold on for the Latin breakdown because you've got great percussion,
trombone, sax and piccolo supporting the pretty vocal chant. This song
could run to 10 minutes and I'd be happy!
British jazz-funk is alive and well and I'm happy - and a little bit
proud - about that. George Anderson has looked over his shoulder and
drawn influences from thirty years of great music and brought them all
bang up to date. I'm impressed that the songs are all original and
that the production values on this record are very high.
I'm impressed that Anderson has brought a whole pile of funk and jazz
to the endeavour, but listen again and you'll hear that he also
brought soul to it. It's taken me a couple of plays to properly
appreciate that - a sure sign of a great record.
The CD is released on Secret Records on
September 24th. You can order on
You can also hear/buy the download from
Check out George's website.