Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Lions - Jungle Struttin

The Lions are something of an underground Los Angeles supergroup -- an ad hoc assemblage of current and former members of bands as diverse as Breakestra, Sound Directions, PlantLife, Orgone, and Poetics, among others. In late 2006 this motley crew of rock and funk musicians came together at Killion Studios and put together a ragged but enjoyable set of reggae, soul, and funk. There's no electronica here, no synthetically smooth soully and jazzy reggae, just lean and crunchy old-school grooves that sound like they could have been recorded and mixed at Dynamic Studios or the Black Ark in the early '70s. Opening with the dubwise slide guitar showcase "Thin Man Skank" (somewhere David Lindley is smiling), Jungle Struttin' then proceeds to explore instrumental funk ("Jungle Struttin'"), vintage rocksteady ("Think [About It]," featuring the fine and soulful singer Noelle Scaggs), and even some faintly Latin grooves ("Hot No Ho," "Cumbia de Lion"). "Lankershim Dub" is a melodica showcase in the style of Augustus Pablo, and "Fluglin' at Dave's" combines a mellow jazz horn sound with Skatalites-style early reggae. That last track is great, but would have been even better if the flügelhorn were in tune. Very nice overall.            

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