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Its moniker equal parts lubricious and euphonious, Lubriphonic is nothing if not emphatic in its rendering of traditional funk music. But The Gig Is On finds the Chicago band paying authentic tribute to likeminded roots that complement its forte.
The septet demonstrates an intrinsic sense of dynamics that allows its players to transcend a style too imitative of Oakland's great Tower of Power. "No Blues" radiates the bittersweet warmth of vintage Philly soul, while "Punk" belies its title, as Corey croons over soft chording and the subtle rise and fall of keyboardist Andrew Toombs' organ in the background.
Guest Ivan Neville's Hammond B-3 break makes "Pimp Limp" rousing, but nowhere near as much so as on "Under the Line." Guitarist/vocalist Giles Corey takes a seasoned approach to his role during this high-powered cut, exuding a sly hipster stance that nevertheless allows him to get out of the way of the band when it hits full stride. And the rhythm section, of drummer Rick King and bassist Pennal (PJ) Johnson, isn't just content to maintain the bottom, but rather dig deeply into a groove, once established.
Lubriphonic's arrangements effectively showcase its horn section's versatility. The woodwinds comping with restraint between turning themselves loose at the forefront of the band on "Speed Dial," while "Pay the Man" finds each member playing more delicately, in turn, than his predecessor. Trumpeter Ron Haynes, saxophonist Garrick Patten and trombonist Johnny Cotten (equally sharing this instrumental spot with Norman Palm) can sound positively majesticor, as on "Rhino," blow with gale force.
This wholly in-house recording/mixing/mastering by co-producer (with Corey and King) Blaise Barton, along with Brian Leach, does Lubriphonic its greatest justice by imparting a uniformity to the mix of styles that's still, on this the band's third album, a work in the process of coalescing. The inclusion of Curtis Mayfield's "If There's A Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go" demonstrates Lubriphonic's knowledge of its antecedents, not to mention a collective honesty that serves the group well throughout The Gig Is On.
Track Listing: Rhino; Under The Line; No Blues; Pimp Limp; Punk; Speed Dial; If
There's A Hell Below (We're All Gonna Go); Coming Together; The Gig
Is On; The Getaway; The Chicken is Worth More Alive Than Dead; Pay
The Man; Dope Man; Whatever You Do Don't Stop.
Personnel: Giles Corey: guitar;, vocals; Rick King: drums, percussion; Pennal (PJ)
Johnson: bass; Andrew Toombs: keyboards; Ivan Neville: Hammond
organ (4, 6, 7,); clavinet (5); Ron Haynes; trumpet; Garrick Patten: sax
Johnny Cotton: trombone (1-3, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13); Norman Palm: trombone
(4, 6, 7,11,14).
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