Amazingly enough, it seems that few people have actually heard of this "collective" of jazz "mutineers". They no longer exist as a band and are currently pursuing solo projects, but their "corpus" of music - four superb albums - should certainly not be overlooked. They enjoyed a brief spell of chart success with the single "Long Time Gone" in 1994, a cover of a David Crosby song, and this was when I first started to adore their unique (in my opinion) brand of jazzfunksoulrap sweetness. It is rare to find a music that not only sounds so wonderfully pleasing to the ears but also makes you sit up and take note of what they are actually saying. This is not to say that they are a "serious" band, but they do address themes like conservation and racism ("Twyford Down", "57th minute of the 23rd hour"). On the other extreme however, they display a brilliant musical and lyrical humour ("Stoned Again", "Totally Together").
They were one of the original groups to fall under the acid jazz label, but, although there are clear overtones of this musical genre, they really are very difficult to put into any particular pigeon-hole. This of course means that they should appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes, indeed, any one of my friends who has been sat down and forced to listen to the sweet vibes of the gallianomeister, has liked and usually grown to love them.
Dates and Names for those who would like to know...
They formed in 1988, led by the acid house DJ Rob Gallagher (decks / rap / vocals) and were signed to the Talkin' Loud label. They can be described as an evolving collective, some of their long term members include Valerie Etienne (vocals) who released a solo album in 1999 "For What it is", Mark Vandergucht (guitars), Ernie McKone (Bass) and Crispin Taylor (Drums). Other notable contributors include Carleen Anderson and Omar (on the album "A Joyful Noise Unto The Creator").
Their initial influences appear to be The Last Poets and Curtis Mayfield, but just as their music is eclectic in its style, so is the variety of artists who precede it. In fact, a list of their influences appears in the cover notes to their first album "In pursuit of the 13th Note", released in 1991.
In Pursuit of the 13th Note (1991, Talkin' Loud)
First offering from the collective, "Welcome to the Story" gives you a good idea of whats coming - soulful jazz/funk/rap fusion...and then the next track "Sweet you like your favourite gears" has a bit of a skat overtone to it. Stand out tracks include "Storm clouds gather", "57th minute...", "Stoned Again", "Power and Glory".
A Joyful Noise Unto The Creator (1992, Talkin' Loud)
This has to be my favourite Galliano album, full of powerful, intelligent, musically superior tunes and it is probably the ideal starting point for anyone wishing to experiment. Enter the Didgeridoos, for the intro "Grounation (Pt 1)" and then the soulful funk of "Jus' Reach" hits you with its full force. "Earth Boots" has a brilliant tongue in cheek sarcasm about it and the comic element is also apparent in "Totally Together". "So much Confusion", and "Prince of Peace" are my particular favourites - serious messages here people, but beautiful tunes.
The Plot Thickens (1994, Talkin' Loud)
Clever Clever Galliano, the tune that starts this album is a new version of "Welcome to the Story", first heard on album number one. This album certainly has a more serious overtone in general, "Twyford Down" is a direct comment on the area of countryside under threat of being destroyed by a motorway bypass at the time. Etienne's fabulous voice is more prevalent on this album and is displayed brilliantly in tracks like "Rise and Fall" and "Long Time Gone". Gallagher also sings much more on here - showing he not only raps like a God (a bit Gill Scott-Heronesque perhaps?) but has a sweet voice too - ("Cold Wind" and "Travels the Road"). I actually like the final track on this, "Better All The Time", it's another one of those feel good songs with pretty harmonies.
4 (1996, Talkin' Loud)
The best "beginning" to an album that I have ever heard - I won't spoil it for you, just make sure the volume is loud when you hear it! The very first track is still very obviously acid jazz but listen to that vicious bass line! This album certainly feels progressive, you can hear echoes of a more "dance" orientated music here. ("Ease Your Mind", "Thunderhead", and "Best Lives of our Days" - the latter with Red Snapper) Then you also have some really beautiful, dare I say it, "Chill Out" tunes - ("Slack Hands" and "Roofing Tiles") . My favourites, "Slightly Frayed", "Funny How" and "Western Front".
And in conclusion...
If you like acid jazz, "chilled" rap, funk, soul or simply if you enjoy music that deviates from the usual commercial dirge, then give them a go, you'll regret it if you don't....I promise! Makes great listening whilst drinking a cup of tea late at night.....
n.b. A remix album was released in 1994 "A Thicker Plot" and a live album in 1997 "Live at the Liquid Rooms". The albums above are UK releases only.