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 music!

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 Amazon

You can also hear/buy the download from iTunes.

Check out George's website.