Another killer release from Speedometer, the funk-soul brothers and sisters everyone needs in their life.
Since forming as a quartet twenty years ago, Speedometer has been at the forefront of the funk & soul scene. Their music has… been on the playlist of every funk and soul DJ dropping their heavy funk, Latin or soulful beats on dancefloors around the world. Their music has also been the backdrop for countless TV shows and even Hollywood film trailers and has inspired a new a generation of funk bands too.
The early days were small gigs, playing Meters covers and Meters-inspired originals (hence the name). As attention grew, so did the band, from a quartet to the 8-piece outfit seen today. On the way, they have toured all over Europe and Japan and there have been countless singles, loads of albums, including collaborations with some of legendary names in soul and funk- from Speedometer website
For us to pre-order an album without hearing it first, we have to be pretty confident that the band can deliver the goods. And we had no hesitation pre-ordering this. These guys are immaculate, having not set a foot wrong in their two decades of stiring up funky soul cocktails. Impeccable taste combined with virtuoso musicianship make them something quite special.
If you look up ‘Class Act’ in the dictionary, it will read – ‘Speedometer’.
They don’t often venture far west of Hammersmith to perform gigs so the only time we have caught them live was by making a special trip to Camden a few years ago. And if you have looked around this blog, you will know we don’t often travel to see soul bands.
2015’s ‘No Turning Back’ was always going to be a tough album to follow, but we had no doubt they could do it. Did they?
The album opener, ‘We Gave up too Soon’ was no surprise, it has been an online tease for the album for a good few weeks now. Featuring Vanessa Jamie on vocals it opens straight away with brass and hand claps – the type of opening that used to prompt high kicks and death defying spits on the dancefloor back in the day at Wigan Casino (and may well do at the dozens of soul nights that still go on up and down the land).
‘Abuja Sunrise’ follows it up, the first of many instrumentals on the album. A Latin vibe is thrown into the mix and we get a brass section led by a deep sax giving a hint of jazz.
No, ‘Kashmir’ is not a cover of the Led Zeppelin number of the same name. It takes us on an unexpected detour to the east, with sitar being thrown into the pot to give a slightly psychedelic edge but remains funky rather than going down any mystical hippy route.
James Junior returns to the fold for ‘Let’s Start a Movement’. After his contribution to the ‘No Turning Back’ album, we expect, and get, sweet soulful vocals.
And so we go, laying down authentic funky-soulful grooves that sound like they were created back in the swinging sixties over in Detroit, yet still feel thoroughly modern. The groovy vibes make you want to don your Sunday best before going out on the town, then throw yourself all over a talc covered dancefloor.
Najwa Ezzaher completes the lineup of guest vocalists, contributing to ‘Time to Slow it Down’ and ‘Look no Further’. And if, you have read this far, it will come as no surprise to hear us say that her vocals are sublime, sweet and simply perfect.
In short, this is a masterclass of how to create a soulful-jazzy-funky vibes with a live band. It is going to take something special to shift this off our soundtrack to the summer.
Have they lived up to the expectations created by previous releases? You bet they have.