Album Reviews

Rock Candy Funk Party

 

We Want Groove is Delightfully Rhythmic!

Band: Rock Candy Funk Party

Album: We Want Groove

Label: J & R Adventures, Inc.

Producer: Tal Bergman

Released: Jan, 2013 

Hailed as a "child prodigy" and guitar "virtuoso", blues-rock legend, Joe Bonamassa announced to his fans another musical adventure; a new chapter in his storied livelihood. As it turns out, the latest side project did not involve '70s classic rock/hard rock, as was the case with super-group Black Country Communion, or the rework of soul and blues staples, with L.A. songstress, Beth Hart, as heard on their 2011 debut album, 'Don't Explain.' (However, a later press statement did confirm where the duo will enter the studio in January.) Much to my amusement, the headlines read, "Bonamassa Goes Funk."

The band's website affirmed,

"RCFP grew out of Bergman and DeJesus' 2007 instrumental album Groove Vol. 1, and subsequent live dates at L.A.'s storied jazz spot The Baked Potato." 

Both musicians invited others to come by and jam.  Soon, the band welcomed new members Mike Merritt on bass (The Basic Cable Band, Conan, Los  Angeles) and Renato Neto on keyboards (Prince, 2002 - 2011).  Bonamassa, too, participated in a series of "one-off" gigs at The Baked Potato beginning April 2011.

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It's official. Joe has joined the Los Angeles-based group, Rock Candy Funk Party (RCFP).  Photo courtesy of Lee Hebert, April 2011.

Those guest appearances permitted Bonamassa to escape the demands of a busy solo career, a chance to be "one of the guys."  Moreover, it seemed the ultimate excuse to step outside his comfort zone and explore his "home-stuff" more in-depth.  The end result: We Want Groove.

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In summer 2012, five supremely talented musicians (please read their bios) entered Tal Bergman's (producer, drummer) studio for the "sheer joy of making music."  Prepared with basic song ideas, Bergman says, "The concept of this record had everything do with interplay...Where everybody feeds off each other, reacts, and captures the moment." Similarly, Bonamassa says of the project, "Making this record was a great opportunity for me to do something I really enjoyed...I'm hoping to show people another side to me."

Note for note, We Want Groove is a nine track (eight originals and one cover) instrumental music time machine, which revisits the jazz-funk sound made popular in the 1970s and 1980s, when Jazz morphed into a new genre, one with a danceable rhythm, with its addition of a strong back beat (or groove), electrified sounds and use of synthesizers. I recall Herbie Hancock, Kool & The Gang and George Benson tunes featuring that upbeat, "feel good" dance swing.

From beginning to end, We Want Groove is delightfully rhythmic--a kaleidoscope of funk/jazz and rock melodies, wherein decades of stylistic influence are seamlessly fused in one setting. Music connoisseurs and newcomers alike will want to hear more from this supergroup.

Track by Track:

"Octupus-e" sets the pace for unadulterated "groove" when Merritt's bass line builds the "throwback" vibe. One by one, each player adds their definable layer to the first of many audible treats.

Next, "Spaztastic," is just that! It opens with a rapidly strummed rock guitar riff played by Bonamassa, the foundation for an auditory mystery ride. And I say mystery ride because the music twists and turns, changes tempo, showcasing each player singularly. And just when the song appears to end, the music rises up and delivers one more dose of twin guitar solos and funky keyboard licks. It's a standout!

Track three, "Ode To Gee," builds slowly until reaching its full-on tempo.  At various instances, I hear snip-its of Spyro Gyra and Steely Dan in its play (and there's nothing wrong with that).  The guitar solos are spectacular.

The entire band lets it all hang out on the title track, We Want Groove.  Neto pushes the musical experience to new heights, manipulating the synthesizer and accessory gear to create all types of electronic effects (electronica) that will either impress or annoy you.  Again, Bonamassa and DeJesus' guitar mastery exceed description.

Next, the first of two slow songs, "The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life," is literally 10 minutes long.  It's light, airy, a trippy piece that suspends the listener in a "Temptations-meet-Issac Hayes" trance-like state. Close your eyes folks and relax, this is '70s mood music to the 10th power.

Track six, "Animal/Work" will get the blood pumping and channeling any pent up energy. The song's intro features Bergman's finesse in drum technique as he plays some jazzed-up rock-ditty before unleashing his inner "animal" onto those stretched skins in an unrestricted series of calculated strikes. (My husband, a drum hobbyist, walked in at the end of Tal's drum solo and said, "This has got some balls.") When the other musicians join in, it's a total jam through and through. Neto is the man on the keys; while Merritt, Bonamassa and DeJesus get funkier than funky.

"Dope on A Rope" and "Root Down (and Get it)" are equally potent to the aforementioned. Merritt plays the bass with such vigor one might feel those strings vibrate in the speaker. The band is tight and entertaining. I encourage you to playback this live version, taped at The Baked Potato, and judge for yourself.

For me, the ninth track, "New York Song", mirrors Geoge Benson's poignant jazz/soul work on the album "Masquerade." It should come with a bold label—Warning: Exudes Ambiance. The only thing missing here is, Sade whispering some romantic sweet nothings. Turn down the lights and pull your lover close on this one.

After five minutes of silence, the hidden track, "Mr. Clean", serves to reve you up for a second go around of Rock Candy Funk Party.

* * *

A personal note: It was my pleasure to review Rock Candy Funk Party's debut collaboration. I listen to music near daily. My taste diverse; my listening pattern, unpredictable. I'm open-minded and embrace all genres. I'm a consumer. I want to be wowed, caught off-guard and pushed outside of my comfort zone, too. It's a privilege to add this album to my personal music library, as the perfect backdrop for work, easy listening, or playing along too. I believe these compositions make a statement, embrace the evolution of music and fusion of genres. We Want Groove has the clout to bring about rousing dialogue and be highly regarded by its peers.

Yours in music,

DebFromMaine Hebert

Visit Deb Hebert's Joe Bonamassa Blog Update here.

 

Learn more about the band, get a free song download, or purchase the CD/merchandise, click here. 

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Follow the band on Facebook and Twitter, or Youtube.

There are several 'live recordings" by devoted fan's: Elexmage, Missmoke007 and RockOnRocket that you will want to view.

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